Storm Survivor: I hope people are stronger because of what they’ve been through

OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s been one year since the tornado tore through Shawnee, killing two and injuring many others.

Back then, NewsChannel Four met a couple on their way home from Lake Eufaula. They ended up trapped in the middle of the twister.

They caught video of it all on their cell phone. You can hear Suzan Whaley screaming as the EF-Four tornado sends her and her husband’s SUV tumbling off an overpass.

“I remember seeing the guard rail coming at me, and I passed out,” said Mrs. Whaley.

Then, the video shows debris and silence Mrs. Whaley’s phone records the moments she doesn’t remember for 25 minutes.

She woke to mangled semis and her husband, Geary, battered right beside them.

“I just kept screaming his name at him saying, ‘Wake up! Wake up!’,” said Mrs. Whaley.

Mr. Whaley made it to the hospital.

“The last thing I remember when it pulled me out of the car. That’s it,” said Mr. Whaley.

He cried out to the public when we caught up with him there, hoping they’d learn to find shelter in the storms.

He stayed in that bed three months with broken bones all over his body.

With surgeries and therapy, he came home in late August.

He took his first ride up the new wheelchair ramp then.

“Oh, he was thrilled to death,” said Ms. Whaley.

Before Christmas, the chair was gone. By New Years, the couple was back.

“He does things around the house,” laughed Mrs. Whaley. “I can’t get him to do dishes yet. He’s not well enough to do that.”

Geary wasn’t at home when we caught up with Mrs. Whaley. He is enjoying time at Lake Eufaula again.

The couple never went back to that overpass again, until Sunday. Mrs. Whaley stopped.

“I just wanted to spend a few minutes there and be done with it actually,” said Mrs. Whaley. “I said I’m not coming back. I’m done with it. We drove off, and I was good.”

Now when she looks back at that recording one year ago, “When I see that, I don’t know. It changed my life. It made me a lot calmer person. I take it day by day,” she said.

She and her husband are finally living the calm of their storm.

“I hope people are stronger because of what they’ve been through. I think Geary and I are. I know Geary and I are,” said Mrs. Whaley. “Something can happen in the blink of an eye and love the people you’re around and tell them you love them. Enjoy life.”