“I pulled in there was only one place left, pump number 18,” Pittman said. “I went inside, and it was only hailing and all the power was off.”
Pittman said he didn't know the tornado was headed their way. There is a radio in the store, but it was useless without electricity.
Employees didn't have their cellphones because it is a 7-Eleven company policy that cellphones aren't allowed in the store while employees are working, he said.
It wasn't until the weather sirens sounded that they realized it wasn't just a hailstorm beating down on them and they took shelter in the restroom.
Pittman doesn't know how long he will have to remain at Jim Thorpe. He said doctors keep telling him “two more weeks.”
In the meantime, workers comp officials are making final approval to renovate his home to make it wheelchair accessible.
For now, it is long hours in his hospital room and in the first-floor gym learning how to do daily tasks.
“Everyday stuff,” Pittman said. “Normal things you do ... do from a chair.”
Pittman hopes he has had his last surgery.
“It's the last unless there is something else they want to cut,” he said leaving a tiring, 30-minute therapy session.
Pittman's hospital room is decorated with pictures of his children and military buddies, cards and artwork made by his 7-year-old son, Logan, and his 13-year-old daughter, Izzabele. One of his son's drawings is a picture of the 7-Eleven before the tornado, the sun and stars smiling and a sticker next to a stick figure that reads “simply the best.”
His wife, Jean, works at the nearby Moore Medical Center that was destroyed when the tornado barreled through the area. Fortunately, she wasn't at work and was safe from the deadly tornado.
That dreadful day is hard for Pittman to get off his mind.
“Some nights, I have dreams,” Pittman said this week. “Like last night, with the storm, I did not sleep at all.”
If you want to help EH Pittman, you can donate funds toward his recovery at any First American Bank.
MORE FROM NEWSOK
Before they loaded me up in the ambulance, I kept telling them about Megan and the baby. They hadn't found either one of them.”
Speaking about tornado victims Megan Futrell and her 4-month-old son, Case