"How Do You Tell Someone His Baby Is Gone?" - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

"How Do You Tell Someone His Baby Is Gone?"

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

As the tornado roared through Warrick County, it destroyed the home of Kerry Hadley on Yankeetown Road, just south of Boonville. Hadley's 18-year-old daughter, Melinda, was killed. Shannon Samson talked to a group of her girlfriends, who say their lives will never be the same.

A group of Boonville teenagers can't stop calling the cell phone of their friend Melinda Hadley. They just want to hear her voice. "Hey, this is Melinda. I can't come to the phone right now. Please leave a message and I will get right back to you."

They say it's the voice of a girl who was at times ditzy... Candace Dockery shares a moment, "She goes 'L.A. is in California?' I go, 'Where did you think it was?' She goes 'I thought L.A. was a state, Candace!'"

A bad driver... Rachel Lechner remembers, "Melinda just steps on the gas and pulls out and hits a pothole! Me and Brandi's heads just hit the ceiling."

And always boy crazy... Brandi Holder recalls, "Anywhere we went, she was obsessed with hot guys. She was like, 'Guys? Are there going to be hot guys there?'"

All it takes is quick look around to turn their laughter into tears. A look at what's left of Melinda's home, where she and her dad were sleeping when the storm hit.

Neighbors found Melinda in a cornfield, behind her house. She apparently died from a severe head injury. A few yards away, they found her dad, Kerry. When he arrived at Deaconess Hospital, he too had head trauma, a collapsed lung and six broken ribs - and yet, amazingly, the latest news about his condition is positive.

A phone call lets everyone know doctors believe Kerry is on his way to a full recovery and, relatives believe, a broken heart. Melinda's cousin Samantha Hadley asks, "How do you tell someone his baby is gone?"

And how will these girls go back to school and resume their senior year, without Melinda? Samantha tells us, "She had the prettiest dress for the Christmas dance, and she's never going to get to wear it." Brandi says regretfully, "I never got to say goodbye to her." And Autumn Foley's pained reply, "I miss her so much. I hope she watches over us." Somehow, they know she will.

Melinda had lived with her father since nine months of age, when her parents divorced. She was set to be the maid of honor in her sister Mandy's wedding this winter.

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