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Windy, rainy conditions kill 3 in Kentucky

High winds and heavy rain led to the deaths of three people as a storm swept through Kentucky on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

A pregnant teenager was killed in Pulaski County on Wednesday when part of a tree fell on her. Earlier in the day in Harlan County, a woman died when her car hydroplaned and hit a tree.

Also Wednesday, Adair County rescue workers recovered the body of a man who was swept away in a swollen creek Tuesday night. He had been trying to help his wife, whose truck was swamped in high water.

More than 7,000 Kentucky Utilities customers, including about 675 in Lexington, lost power due to tree limbs hitting utility poles and power lines.

The Lexington outage was caused by wind blowing a tree limb into a utility pole in the Lansdowne area, breaking the pole, KU spokesman Cliff Feltham said. There were other outages in the Danville, Winchester, Somerset and Pineville areas, he said.

He described the outages as relatively small.

The storm dumped nearly 3 inches of rain on parts of the state. Winds were especially strong from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, uprooting and breaking trees and scattering Christmas decorations. The weather also forced Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky to cancel its racing Wednesday.

The wind speed at Triangle Mountain near Morehead reached 59 mph, while the Flemingsburg airport recorded a gust of 56 mph, said Anthony Richey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Jackson.

The top wind speed in Lexington was 53 mph; in Louisville, 51 mph; and in Harrodsburg, 56 mph, said Robert Szappanos, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville.

Kaitlyn Griffin, 17, of Somerset was killed when she was hit by part of a tree split by the wind. She was standing in the street at a public apartment complex when the tree hit her head, according to police and family members.

"If there ever was a definition of a freak accident, this would apply," said Detective Shannon Smith, spokesman for the Somerset Police Department.

Neighbors tried frantically to pull the tree away before emergency workers freed Griffin and rushed her to the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Kaitlyn was 27 weeks pregnant, said her aunt Reddia Gadd.

Doctors tried to save the baby boy but were unsuccessful.

Kaitlyn and her family were moving into an apartment at the complex when the accident happened. She was behind a car loaded with their belongings when the tree, which was in the yard of their new apartment, split and fell.

Her cousin Josh Thacker, 15, also was struck by the tree but had heard a pop and was able to jump partly out of the way, Smith said.

He was hurt, but his injuries were not life-threatening, Smith said.

Kaitlyn's mother, Rhonda Griffin, also was with Kaitlyn and narrowly missed being hit, Smith said.

"She's still in shock," Gadd said of the mother.

Gadd said Kaitlyn was not married but maintained a relationship with the father of her baby.

She was a smart girl who had just completed the coursework to get her high-school diploma on Tuesday and had a scholarship to go to college, Gadd said.

Vanessa Bishop, 37, of Closplint in Harlan County, died about 6 a.m. Wednesday when her 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt hydroplaned on Ky. 38 at Highsplint, left the road and hit a tree, state police in Harlan said.

In southern Adair County near the Metcalfe County line on Wednesday afternoon, crews used horses and boats to search miles of flooded Harrodsfork Creek. They found the body of a man who had set out on his tractor to help his wife after her vehicle ended up in a flooded area.

William Grover, 58, of 2300 Anderson Road, Breeding, was pronounced dead at 1:49 p.m. Wednesday, said Adair County Coroner Rick Wilson. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday.

Grover's wife, Jodeine Grover, called her husband and emergency dispatchers after 8 p.m. Tuesday. Rising water had reached her waist as she sat in the truck before firefighters got to her, said Greg Thomas, Adair county emergency management director.

Forecasters said that a blast of cold weather and windchill factors could make temperatures feel as if they are in the single digits on Thursday.

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