From his pickup, amateur storm chaser Richard Charles Henderson took a cellphone photo of the first tornado Friday and excitedly sent it to a friend.
Minutes later, that tornado would kill him.
“That was the end of his life right there,” said the friend, George “Sonny” Slay.
“He said, ‘I'm having fun,'” Slay recalled Monday. “He told me he was riding around … chasing the storms …. I said, ‘You better quit that!'
“And, then, I guess he was en route to the position that he got in because he said, ‘There goes Channel 9!' He said, ‘You might even see me on TV.' And, then a few seconds later, he said, ‘Oop, there's Channel 5!'”
Slay said the picture came in at 6:05 p.m. About 10 minutes later, Slay heard a loud popping noise over the phone.
Henderson cursed, and then asked Slay if he had heard the sound.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I heard it. What was it?' And he said, ‘It's debris hitting my pickup.' I said, ‘You better get your ass out of there.' Then the phone went dead.
Henderson, of Hinton, was one of at least 18 people who died because of Friday's tornadoes and storms. His body was found near El Reno.
Twelve of the dead were adults and six were children, the medical examiner's office reported Monday.
Most apparently died because of flooding, according to law enforcement reports.
Seven of the victims remained unidentified Monday afternoon.
The dead included three veteran storm chasers — Tim Samaras, his son, Paul, and colleague Carl Young.
In an interview for the National Geographic Society last month, Tim Samaras said, “On a big tornado day in Oklahoma, you can have hundreds of storm chasers lined up down the road. Oklahoma is considered the Mecca of storm chasing. We know ahead of time when we chase in Oklahoma, there's going to be a traffic jam.”
Henderson was one of those who enjoyed watching storms.
“He didn't do it real often, but he did like to do it,” his mother, Dianna Henderson, said Monday.
Richard Henderson, 35, was a rancher and truck driver. His birthday would have been Thursday.
He was remembered Monday as a devoted father of two boys, 7 and 10. Services are Wednesday in Hinton.
His parents said he was thrown from the pickup.
“They said the inside of his pickup was just as clean as if it came off the showroom. They said everything was out of it … so it must have sucked him and everything else out of it,” his mother said.
“He never thought about anything like this happening.”
Staff Writer Andrew Knittle