Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tornado takes SUV for a sky ride

(Locally, we got pounded by tornadoes. No reported deaths so far.--jef)

Posted on April 4, 2012

FORNEY — With all the damage we've seen in this Kaufman County community northeast of Dallas, it is amazing that no one was seriously hurt.

No one knows that better than Mary Anne Quiñonez, who was picking up her daughter Lucia at Crosby Elementary School just a few blocks away from the epicenter of tornado damage in the Diamond Creek subdivision.

Her split-second decision to get out of her sport utility vehicle and go into the school likely saved her life.

The SUV ended up in the middle of a field, heavily damaged after being swept more than 100 yards into the sky by the menacing funnel cloud.

"That's my car," Quiñonez said as she was shown a cell phone photo of what was left of it. Her decision to ride out the storm with her daughter inside the school turned out to be the correct one.

"It was like banging against the school; you could hear it banging," Lucia Quiñonez said.

As they hunkered down in the dark with other students and teachers, the tornado tore through, ripping off the school's roof; flipping cars in the parking lot; and sending Quiñonez' SUV so far, she couldn't find it.

"I turned to my daughter and I said, 'Lucia, my car is gone!' And she looked and said, 'It's gone!'"

It wasn't until she saw the aerial images from HD Chopper 8 that she finally figured out what had happened.

"I saw a live shot of you guys focusing on my car," Quiñonez said. "We literally, all of us, were at the TV ... oh my God, that is my car!"

The Quiñonez family is just one of scores who are giving thanks that they were not seriously injured in the disaster.

Crosby Elementary School will be closed on Wednesday as the Forney ISD evaluates the damage.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew was being enforced at the Diamond Creek subdivision to discourage looting in the 75 homes that were damaged.