- (Photo: Reuters / Bill Waugh)
A 3-year-old boy who was missing since Oklahoma was struck by a powerful tornado earlier this week was found dead Thursday near his home.
Both Ryan Hamil and his 15-month-old brother, Colt, were killed in Tuesday's storms.
"We found my other son this morning, Ryan," said the father, Hank Hamil. "He was floating in the water on the west side of the lake (Lake Falcon) and I just want to thank everybody for helping and being there."
Holding back tears, he commented, "It's a bad deal. I lost both my boys. I was hoping we'd find Ryan today alive."
The emotional distress was apparent in Hamil's face as he coped with the devastating loss.
"Ryan was my little buddy," he said as his voice cracked. "Colt was too. I loved them both."
The death toll in Oklahoma has risen to 10. The Sooner state was among several central states hit by tornadoes late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Ramping up search efforts, family members joined emergency responders Wednesday to look for Ryan Hamil, whose home was destroyed.
On Wednesday night, officials widened the search to several counties.
The two-day search came to an end Thursday morning with the discovery of the toddler's body.
Hank Hamil and his parents expressed genuine gratitude to the community for aiding them during their desperate hour of need and for their kindness.
Hamil's wife, Catherine, who is pregnant, was injured in the storm. She went into surgery Wednesday night and remains in fair condition. Her unborn baby is also reportedly doing fine.
Their 5-year-old daughter, Cathleen, was also injured but is expected to recover.
Across Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, the death toll from this week's storms has risen to 16 people.