Survivor Story: Dion Henderson

By Carrie Coppernoll Modified: May 1, 2009 at 11:05 am •  Published: May 1, 2009
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MOORE — Dion Henderson is deaf, but he heard the tornado that killed his mother.

“It was terrible,” he said. “It sounded like an airplane probably going to crash.”

Henderson was 7 when a tornado devastated his family on May 3, 1999. That day, the first-grader and his older brother went to a friend's house to play after school. The sky turned dark, so the boys went home early. Weathermen reported tornados were near, so the whole family rushed to the bathroom. The boys' uncle and father covered them, and their mother cradled the youngest son, Andrew, who was only 6 weeks old.

Their house collapsed. Henderson's mother died. His older brother had a punctured lung. The baby had two skull fractures. Henderson had a cut on his neck but survived relatively unscathed compared to the others.

They all spent time in the hospital, and the baby lingered in a coma for a month. Everyone recovered, but returning to life as usual was difficult. The boys eventually returned to school, and Dion received new hearing aids to replace the ones he lost in the storm. Having a large, supportive extended family in the area helped, Henderson said.

Even though he was young when his mother died in the storm, Henderson said he still thinks of her often, remembering the fun they had swimming or getting ice cream in the summer. She was a caring woman with a bright smile, he said.

“I don't want people to feel bad for me,” he said. “I'm not like that. … I miss her. I know I'll see her one day.”