Students Get Degrees Posthumously


TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Aug. 7 (UPI) — The families of five of six students killed in an April tornado accepted their posthumous degrees from the University of Alabama, officials said.

Family members walked across the stage Saturday to receive degrees for students killed when a tornado struck Tuscaloosa and the university April 27, the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News reported.

Family members representing five of the six dead students attended the commencement ceremony and all six of the deceased students earned degrees and were recognized.

The tornado killed Brandon S. Atterton, Danielle M. Downs, Ashley T. Harrison, Melanie N. Mixon, Morgan M. Sigler and Marcus J. Smith.

“She always took care of me,” said Michelle Kathleen Downs Whatley, Downs’ sister, who accepted the diploma in her sister’s absence.

University President Robert Witt said he is proud of how everyone at the school behaved in the tornado’s aftermath.

“When we look back on April 27, it is the resilience of our Alabama family that stands out,” Witt said.

The tornado was part of a massive storm cell that claimed 330 lives across the south, including 47 in Tuscaloosa.

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