Truck Driver Tossed By Tornado and Barely Survivesby Jana Ritter - Published: 5/21/2013
A massive, mile-wide tornado with winds up to 200 mph killed at least 51 people Monday afternoon during 40 terrifying minutes of destruction across southern Oklahoma City and its suburbs. On Sunday another tornado in Shawnee Oklahoma was so strong, it blew a semi right off the overpass and onto the highway below. The Kentucky truck driver survived the deadly tornado, but is seriously injured from being tossed and dropped.
The owners of Blair Transport in Johnson County say one of their drivers drove right through Shawnee, OK, as a twister barreled down destroying almost everything in its path and a tracking device is what let them know something was not right. Owner Chris Blair says he was at home keeping a close eye on the weather out west knowing some of his truck drivers could be in harms way. "We see tornadic activity or anything like that we always monitor our drivers, call them and tell them to stop," he said.
He says it was all thanks to a GPS tracking device installed on each one of their trucks that let them know that one was headed straight for a tornado. But when he saw images of trucks thrown around like toys he had no idea one of those trucks was his. "Never in a million years did we have ever dreamed that it would have blown him off of a bridge," Blair said. It was right after the last ping showing on the GPS, that Blair knew something was not right because it showed his driver just made a right turn off an overpass. “We knew something was horribly wrong right there," he said.
After several failed attempts at calling the driver all Blair could do was wait and wonder. Two hours after the tornado hit he got his answer. The driver had stopped his truck on a bridge on Interstate 40 with the intention of getting under the bridge for safety. Prior to him exiting the vehicle the wind picked the truck up blew it over the edge of the bridge, and it fell 50 feet to the road below. Fortunately the driver, 44-year-old Steve Everett survived but remains hospitalized with serious injuries. Everett was flown to Oklahoma City with a fractured skull and some possible spine fractures.
Blair Transport says their rig can be replaced and the cargo is not their concern. “The main focus at this time is the driver's well being," said Blair. Right now Everett is paralyzed from the waist down, but doctors are hopeful he could walk again.
When compared to the number of people confirmed dead from Monday's tornado, including 20 children, Everett is lucky to still be alive.