Oklahoma storms: Amateur storm chaser took photo of tornado that killed him

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.
by Nolan Clay Modified: June 3, 2013 at 10:26 pm •  Published: June 3, 2013

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.


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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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