Garland, Texas,
06
May
2020
|
08:07 PM
America/Chicago

State Farm Claims Specialist a Champion in Soccer Star’s Eyes

A tornado ripped a soccer star’s champion rings from her, and a State Farm claims specialist brought one back home.

Editor’s Note: Chelsea Raymond and State Farm Claims Specialist Jacob Kilcrease met in February, before shelter-in-place orders or working from home had been instituted in Texas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Wind and hail are a common occurrence this time of year. Already this spring severe storms have damaged thousands of homes and vehicles across the country. A North Texas resident rebuilding her home following a fall tornado is proof the weather warnings ring true. Priceless memories can be lost.

The college soccer star feared four championship rings were gone forever when fall storms hit her home. A claims inspection weeks later, blocks away and unrelated to her own, turned her fear to joy.

A Terrifying Experience

When one of 10 tornadoes threatened Chelsea Raymond’s Garland, Texas, neighborhood Oct. 18, friends and family called concerned about her safety. Chelsea quickly took shelter with her dog under a mattress in the bathroom.

“Loud noises, everything breaking. Then, it went silent.” Chelsea, who is already scared of storms, said the experience was terrifying. Her home took a direct hit from an EF-2 tornado that tore through with 135 mile per hour winds. Emerging from the bathroom, she was thankful to be uninjured and hopeful not too much damage had occurred. She quickly saw her car and home had been destroyed.

“It was a shock, but the main thing is I was OK and my dog was OK, because that’s something no one can replace, but the other stuff I can. Of course it was sad to have to replace everything, but I’m OK with it,” she said.

 

Some of the personal property had priceless sentimental value. Chelsea starred as a soccer starter her four years at Texas’ Stephen F. Austin University. Chelsea and her teammates won four conference championships, creating a lifetime of memories. But, her treasured championship rings that helped relive those moments were carried away by the twister.

“I just think this tornado took everything where it wanted to take it,” Chelsea said. Her four championship rings couldn’t be found among the mangled debris. Luckily, two have been recovered, one by a neighbor in an alley, another on a random roof re-inspection.

Three Blocks Over

Looking at damaged roofs across Dallas – Fort Worth isn’t uncommon. According to State Farm® claims data, Texas had more claims paid related to wind and hail than any other state in 2019. It’s sometimes what you find that is unique.

“I walked around the back of the roof for measurements and photos and something caught my eye,” said Jacob Kilcrease, State Farm Claims Specialist. Through random assignment, he was three blocks from Chelsea’s home about three months after the tornado. He jokes he finds toys often and first thought it was a ring from a gumball machine, but quickly realized it had much more meaning.

“When I originally found the ring, I saw the name, inscription, and immediately Googled the name and found a local news article that she was missing the ring.”

With the help of social media and a local news station, Jacob reunited the ring with Chelsea, making it one of the more unique discoveries and rewarding claims he’s worked.

“It’s almost like a needle in a haystack. I didn’t really believe it,” Chelsea said of the call informing her the second of her four missing rings had been found.

Jacob was amazed at all the coincidences that had to happen in order for him to come across Chelsea’s ring. From the ring hitting and staying put on a State Farm customer’s roof to that customer getting randomly drawn for re-inspection and the customer allowing it, “the stars had to align for all of that to take place. The odds of that happening are just unbelievable.”