On Tornado Anniversary, Man Recalls Night of 'Miracles'

PHOTO: A man reunites with a baby he saved five years ago, who is now 6-years-old.PlayABC News
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Blake was just 14 months old when a tornado ripped open the ceiling and swept him from his crib, but he's alive today thanks to a man who left his basement hideout to search for him.

Blake is now 6 years old; Jeff Hawks, 43, had not met the boy he rescued until yesterday in Millington, Mich., near where the twister touched down.

"I'm just glad you're OK," Hawks told the boy, picking him up for a hug and putting him back down on the grass. "God's got some big things planned for you."

Hawks said he remembers the night of Oct. 19, 2007 every time there's a storm.

The night began with an earlier tornado warning that turned out to be a false alarm. Hawks and his family had spent about 20 minutes waiting in their basement before heading back upstairs.

Hawks, a nurse, should have been calm, but said he remembers laying his son in his crib and hearing a voice in the back of his head that made him uneasy.

"I heard a voice that said, 'Are you going to see him alive in the morning?'" Hawks told ABCNews.com. "The voice just kept going over and over in my head."

Sure enough, he woke up at 1:19 a.m. to the sound of shingles ripping off his roof. He yelled for his wife to get his two daughters and made a beeline for his son's room.

"I'd just grabbed onto his clothes and the windows exploded," he said, adding that the force slammed him into the wall. "I grabbed him like a football and kept on running."

Just as the family made it into the basement, they noticed screaming from outside. It was Blake's mom, Nicky Kelly. Hawks said his wife told him to check her. As he emerged from the basement, Kelly who told him what was wrong: "I can't find the baby."

In the pitch black darkness from the storm, Hawks searched 10 acres of land for Blake. He kept finding baby dolls in the debris, and every time he was afraid the cold, still plastic was his neighbor's dead son.

Finally, he heard a whimper over the rain and panicked chatter. He screamed for everyone to be quiet, and started running. He knew where it was coming from.

Under a debris pile weighing more than a car, Hawks saw the overturned crib. He and Kelly's fiance tossed things aside, but couldn't budge the crib, so Hawks stuck his hand down under the metal and pulled.

"I grabbed hair and out popped a baby," Hawks said. "The kid was blue as could be…Christmas lights were wrapped around his neck four or five times."

He couldn't untangle them as the child gasped for air, so he ripped the wires apart.

"When I made it to him, I grabbed him from them and he was just looking around," Kelly told ABC's Michigan affiliate. "That was probably the happiest feeling I've ever had in my entire life."

But Blake's survival wasn't the only miracle that night, Hawks said. One of his daughters was uneasy after the first tornado scare, and asked if she could sleep in her sister's room. If she hadn't, she would be dead. Hawks said they found three two-by-four's through the mattress.

When Kelly's fiancé left his house, he used a mattress to shield himself but fell down as the wind picked up. He still had two items in his hands: a cell phone and a flashlight.

Although the Hawks family had three cars, only one was new. It was the only one that wasn't totaled in the tornado.

"That whole night was a night filled with miracles," Hawks said.