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Officials identify Atlanta tornado fatality

  • Story Highlights
  • Tornado roared through downtown Atlanta on March 14 with winds up to 130 mph
  • Man found dead 8 days later after workers see human hand sticking out of rubble
  • Medical examiner identifies victim as Gregory Lee Sr., 45
  • Authorities say Lee is the only person killed by the tornado
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Authorities have identified a man whose body was found under rubble more than a week after a tornado swept through downtown Atlanta.

Gregory Lee Sr., 45, died from blunt-force injuries, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Randy Hanzlick said in a statement issued late Tuesday. The death was classified as accidental.

Lee died when a brick wall collapsed during the March 14 tornado, Hanzlick said.

He was the only person killed in the downtown Atlanta twister, authorities said.

About 30 people were injured.

Lee was known to frequent the area where his body was found, Hanzlick said.

The body was found Saturday as workers were removing the bricks and saw what appeared to be a human hand, police said. They summoned authorities who uncovered the body.

Police said it appeared the man had been outside the building in the parking lot when the wall collapsed. The front of the building houses a store, while the rear, where the wall collapsed, was a space used by a church congregation.

"It's unfortunate we found this gentleman [who died] trying to find shelter from the storm," Atlanta Police spokesman James Polite told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"It is truly a miracle we didn't have an astronomical number of serious injuries or fatalities," Polite told the newspaper.

The tornado left a swath of uprooted and broken trees, downed utility lines, peeled-off roofs and collapsed brick walls in its path on the Friday night it tore through Atlanta's downtown tourist district. See some of hardest hit areas »

It damaged the roof of the Georgia Dome during a college basketball game, shattered windows and ripped roofs from buildings before continuing into several residential neighborhoods.


Trees blown down in the storm crushed a row of houses in the city's historic Cabbagetown district just east of downtown. The top floor collapsed at one building in the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts, a 104-year-old industrial complex redeveloped into residences. Across the street, headstones were toppled in the historic Oakland Cemetery.

"This was clearly a tornado," Lans Rothfusz of the National Weather Service's Peachtree City, Georgia, office said. He rated the storm an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, meaning it packed top winds of 130 miles per hour. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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