Cheerleaders narrowly escape as storm rips roof off of gym

Posted at 3:03 PM, Jul 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-09 15:50:38-04

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va (WTVR) - Two people remain hospitalized one day after powerful storms collapsed the walls and ripped the roof off of a Spotsylvania gym.

There were more than 30 people inside the Cheer Fusion building when it was nearly demolished by straight line winds on Sunday. The storm hit around 5 p.m., pelting the gym and surrounding businesses with hail and heavy rain.

A dozen girls and their parents were in the middle of practice, when seemingly out of nowhere one of the walls collapsed, and roof began to tear off o the building.

Gym Director Mandi Spina directed all of the girls to gather together in the center of the room. But just as the adults began to push the children in, the other walls gave away.

"We were scared and praying to God, and hoping we weren`t going to die," Kylie Johnson, one of the cheerleaders inside the gym, said.

The girls say they  narrowly escaped a falling wall as they ran to the back of the building.

"We weren`t that close from it hitting us," said Meghan Thatcher, another cheerleader attending the practice. "we had just stepped foot in there and we saw it just cave in on us."

For Spina, the safety of the dozen girls she was responsible was her paramount concern, but in the back of her mind she had another worry: the whereabouts of her 3-year-old son Aiden.

"I knew Bill was holding my son watching the rain, so I knew he was with someone, but you just lose sight of it," she said. "You're trying to get so many things done at once. I ran back to the dance room and asked 'Where's Aiden?' And he had placed his body over top of him in the corner."

Spina says many parents took action yesterday to make sure all of the children were safe.

Three people were treated on scene, four children were taken to the hospital and released, while two parents remain in the hospital today. They've had surgery and are expected to make a full recovery.

Clean-up continues in the area. There were about a dozen businesses and one home damaged by the storm. A lot of the business hope to be open in the next couple of days.

Cheer Fusion's owner says several people have already come forward to offer them a space to practice.