A 16-year-old boy from Elgin, Texas, was on his way home from a job interview at Whataburger when a tornado picked up his truck and threw it “like paper,” he recalled, looking back at the now-viral video of his red 2004 Chevrolet Silverado.
The whole ordeal, teen Riley Leon told KTBC-TV, left him “speechless.” But he credits God for his survival.
“[I’m] grateful I’m here,” said Leon. “[I’m] grateful God gave me another chance, because better things are gonna come in the future. Never let small things bring you down, because bigger things are gonna come.”
Looking back, the boy said he wishes he had taken the warnings about the inclement weather more seriously.
He told the news outlet he “never expected” something like what happened to him this week to ever occur.
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Thankfully — and miraculously — Leon walked away from the harrowing incident with nothing more than a couple scratches on his arms. The experience, though, has been difficult to process.
Leon said the red truck he was driving had significant sentimental value, admitting he has cried knowing it is likely totaled as a result of the accident. The Chevy truck has been in the family since Leon’s little sister was born.
“That truck,” he said, “helped me and my dad get to where we are now.”
If you missed the incredible footage of the incident, captured by storm chaser Brian Emfinger, here it is:
Now safe at home, Leon said he is happy to be reunited with his parents, his little sister, and his older brother.
Leon is already back in school and was hoping no one ever even found out about the accident, which might have been possible if video footage of the stunning ordeal hadn’t spread like wildfire on social media. In fact, that is how his family found out about the accident: they saw the video and recognized the truck.
Another storm chaser, Marcus Reynolds, saw the incident unfold and spoke briefly with Leon after the ordeal.
Reynolds recalled Leon being “in shock” after being whipped around by the EF-2 tornado. The storm chaser told Fox Weather he let the teenager use his mobile phone after the scene unfolded.
That’s when Leon called his parents to tell them it was him in the video.
“That’s when I called my mom and my dad, and they’re like, ‘Are you OK?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but my truck is gone,'” he said.
Looking back, Leon said the No. 1 lesson he’s learned from the accident was, “If there’s going to be bad weather, stay home. No matter how important the thing is to you, stay home. Your life, your life matters more than other stuff.”
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