WDRB's Lawrence Smith recalls close call with tornado
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- WDRB reporter Lawrence Smith got an up-close look at the March 2 tornado in Henryville Ind. -- and he was lucky to escape with his life. On Friday afternoon -- roughly one year later -- he recalled the terrifying events.
He and a WDRB photographer had just gotten off I-65 and were heading toward Henryville when the tornado approached. When they saw the tornado Smith, ever the journalist, said his first thought was, "Get the video." It was only after shooting that video that they sought shelter.
Smith says he and his photographer were lucky, because they had a choice of two gas stations to take shelter in.
"We went right," Smith said in 2012, "and we were fortunate. If we'd gone left, we'd have been in the building that was totally destroyed."
He said they huddled in the gas station with several people as the tornado passed, shaking the building the entire time.
"We watched it literally pass by us," Smith said immediately after the event. He said he saw the swirling motion of the tornado and saw structures coming apart.
Smith said the lights started flickering in the gas station, and then went out. There were concerns about a gasoline leak after some of the station's pumps were knocked over, but those turned out to be unfounded.
After the tornado passed, Smith and his photographer went outside, only to find themselves in a hailstorm. The building across the street was "gone," Smith said, down to the foundation, and nearby apartment buildings were also leveled. Smith saw people from that apartment complex being taken out on stretchers. Recounting his story on the air later, he commended emergency crews for their quick response.
The tornado didn't spare them entirely, though -- the windshield and side rear-view mirror of their live truck were smashed, but they were able to drive the truck back to Louisville.
"I never want to get that close to a twister again," Smith said.
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