GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A 72-year-old western Michigan man died early Friday after severe thunderstorms moving across the state sent a large tree crashing into his bedroom, authorities said.
The storms moved through Grand Haven about 2:30 a.m. but the body of Lawrence Thon was not recovered until noon, Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke told a news conference. A private tree company and a technical rescue team had to remove the tree using a crane before stabilizing the home.
“He was in his bed at the time,” Hawke said. “The tree took off an addition to the house, landed on him, and he died at the scene.”
Thon’s wife also was home at the time but in a different part of the house, Hawke said.
“She was standing at the front door when the tree fell and she made it out safely, unharmed,” he said. “She was up checking the storm conditions.”
A wind gust exceeding 90 mph (145 kph) was reported at Grand Haven’s harbor along Lake Michigan.
Trees and power lines were knocked down by the strong storms, which started Thursday night and continued Friday morning. Heavy rain and hail fell in places. Consumers Energy said that more than 156,000 of the homes and businesses it serves lost power.
Tom Donahue, whose home is near the Thons’, told WZZM-TV that the storm was extremely loud as it moved through.
“It sounded like a jet engine, a jet plane, was parked on my deck,” he said. “It was so loud. I couldn’t believe how loud it was. It’s the biggest storm I’ve ever been in.”
Neighbors described the Thons’ home as a summer cottage. Elisabeth Sawyer, a friend and high school classmate, said those in the area were “very fortunate” to escape the storm.
“You can tell some of the trees around here are old and you can tell they’re ready to go down,” she said.
Consumers Energy said power restoration efforts were taking place and would likely continue through the weekend. The utility said the northeast and western portions of the state were hit hard. About 2,000 power lines were down, Consumers Energy said.
The National Weather Service said winds up to 65 mph (105 kph) were reported in the Grand Rapids area. Road crews were called in to remove trees from roads in Kent County, which includes Grand Rapids.
Some trees and large tree limbs were knocked down in suburban Detroit. DTE Energy reported about 14,000 scattered power outages in southeastern Michigan on Friday morning. The Lansing area also saw storm damage, with downed trees and power lines.