James and Michelle Laidler were caught on open highway as the storm brewed Sunday, speeding to evade the approaching tornado.
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Route 69 in Baxter Springs, Kan., wasn’t an ideal place to hunker down.
“It’s swirling. Turn around,” Michelle yelled. “It’s coming at us.”
Michelle videotaped the escape with her cellphone, capturing the tense moments.
“You can’t go 120, there’s a stop sign,” Michelle said. “It’s right over us … please, I want to go home! Oh, God! It’s coming right at us, Jim. Please don’t wreck us, please.”
The couple didn’t wreck, but others weren’t so lucky. That same tornado ripped a swath through the center of tiny Quapaw, Okla., killing one person and sending five more to the hospital. Rescue workers searched through the night for more victims, but found none.
Even the town’s fire station was damaged. Chief Billy Kerley was grateful that his men survived.
“They’re like family to me, the guys I serve with,” Kerley said. “You know, it’s kind of an eerie feeling.”
When the same twister crossed into Kansas, it was estimated to be three blocks wide, destroying and damaging about 100 homes and businesses and injuring 25.