Family remembers father killed while chasing tornado

EL RENO, Okla. – Friday’s tornado claimed the lives of 19 people and one of those was 35-year-old Richard Henderson.

He was an amateur storm chaser who drove to El Reno from Hinton to catch a glimpse at the tornado.

“You just can’t believe it,” said Harlon Henderson.

The tornado that tore through El Reno killed his son.

“I said, ‘he’s a home,’ We went up at his house four times Saturday just to see if he’d come home,” said Harlon. “We went and viewed the body just a minute ago and he’s gone. He’s gone.”

Richard was a cattle rancher and oil field worker with two boys of his own.

“They liked to go roller skating, eat a lot, go out different places, go fishing,” said Dianna Henderson.

Richard’s oldest son, Robbie is 10 years old.

“He’d say he loved us,” said Robbie.

His 7-year-old little brother, Wyatt, wasn’t ready to talk about his father just yet.

His family said Richard was fascinated by tornadoes since he was a child.

He was chasing this one when it grew to historic proportions, 2.6 miles wide.

At that critical moment, Richard was on the phone with his friend, Sonny Slay.

“I heard a loud banging noise and he said, ‘Sonny, did you hear that?’ and I said, ‘Wes. What was it?’, and he said, ‘It’s debris hitting my pickup.’ I said, ‘You crazy fool, get out of there. You’re too close!’ Shortly after that, the phone went dead,” said Slay.

Richard was parked near a field on SW 15th St. and Choctaw Rd. in Canadian County.

He was one of eight people killed when they were caught on the roadway in the twister’s path.

A path no mother wants for her youngest son.

In just two days, she would have been making him a cake for his birthday.

“Love the kids and make sure you hug them every day and every night,” said Dianna.

Now the family faces the loss of a son, father and friend together.

Richard’s funeral is Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Hinton Coliseum.

The family warns others to never chase a tornado.