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Survivor Story: Carolyn Stager

By Carrie Coppernoll Modified: May 1, 2009 at 4:20 pm •  Published: May 1, 2009
Doctor's suspect a piece of paper scalped Carolyn Stager. Anything bigger or sharper would have killed her.

“Something had cut my forehead,” she said, “and because the winds were so fierce, the wind just took and ripped my scalp off.”

Stager and her daughter, who was six months pregnant, survived a May 3, 1999, tornado that destroyed Stager's Del City home.

They huddled in a coat closet under the stairs, laughing about the cramped quarters. As Oklahoma natives, they'd lived through many tornado warnings. As they shut the closet door, the tornado sucked away the house.

The storm passed, and the women were trapped and injured. Neighbors came out from under the debris and began rescuing the injured, using doors as gurneys. Stager's daughter was covered in bruises and cuts. She was loaded into the back of a pickup and driven to a hospital.

Stager's scalp was missing, her skull was exposed and her pelvis was shattered. She was taken to St. Anthony's in an ambulance. She never lost consciousness, but she couldn't feel what happened to her head. All the medical staff would look above her eyes, up to her skull.

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