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Oklahoma tornadoes: El Reno tornado victims drove into chaos

At least seven of the nine people identified as victims of Friday's tornadoes in Oklahoma were killed because they were in vehicles, authorities said.
by Andrew Knittle and Nolan Clay Published: June 2, 2013

“It's a tough deal. He was everybody's friend. … He'd give you the shirt off his back. I'm going to miss him,” Allen said.

Two of the tornado victims were men in cars in Union City, Police Chief Eddie Dickerson said. One died at the scene while the other died after being taken to a hospital, he said.

Some who tried to drive away from the storm were thinking of the destruction in Moore caused by a powerful tornado there May 20. The death toll from the May 20 tornado has been put at 24.

“It was chaos. People were going southbound in the northbound lanes. Everybody was running for their lives,” said Terri Black, 51, a teacher's assistant in Moore.

“My car was actually lifted off the road and then set back down,” Black said. “The trees were leaning literally to the ground. The rain was coming down horizontally in front of my car. Big blue trash cans were being tossed around like a piece of paper in the wind. I'll never do it again.”

Randolph, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, said, “I'm not sure why people do that sort of stuff, but it is very dangerous. It not only puts them in harm's way, but it adds to the congestion. It really is a bad idea for folks to do.”

Flooding from Friday's storm also claimed lives. A 4-year-old boy died Friday in Oklahoma City, a 65-year-old man died Saturday morning in eastern Oklahoma County and a 69-year-old woman died Saturday morning in Okfuskee County, authorities said.

It was unclear Saturday if the 4-year-old boy was among the nine dead described by the medical examiner's office as tornado victims.

Contributing: Staff Writers Juliana Keeping, Hannah Covington and Adam Kemp; The Associated Press has disabled the comments for this article.
by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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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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