Rescues at Plaza Towers during May 2013 tornado accidentally recorded on cell phone 

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

MOORE, Okla. - Like many Oklahomans, Jacob Lyles had an insatiable appetite for severe weather.

The 19-year-old watched and recorded as the distant storm grew alarmingly close to his Moore community.

His neighbor had extended an invitation to take refuge in the shelter. Lyles was the last of 15 adults, children and pets to wedge inside.

Within two minutes, the world they had known was obliterated.

Lyles recalled opening the shelter door, “Oh, no! Oh my God. Oh my God. No, no, no. Close it. Oh my God. Oh my God."

His house ravaged, Lyles and his friends began following a trail of screaming.

"We went going house-to-house and hearing different screams. Plea for help. We covered five to six blocks, pulling people out of the storm shelters," he said.

And then he saw it - Plaza Towers. The place he'd attended elementary school.

"You're in this situation for a reason. You're strong. You can do this. You need to get up there and help them. So, I took off running straight toward the school," said Lyles.

He scaled a mountain of debris and began digging for any sign of life.

“I looked down underneath the wall and there was a little girl staring at me, caught me off guard. I was like, wow," said Lyles.

Lyles has relived that moment hundreds of times.

A portion of those rescues had inadvertently been recorded on the phone in his pocket.

Lyles: “I got you, sweetie. Okay, how far are your legs back? Are your legs straight? Oh, no, you're tucked right here. Yes, yes. Thank you, sweetheart. Come here. Can you move to me?"

Girl: “ I think (moan)."

Lyles: Can you get it? Got it. Come on, sweetie. Come on. Come on. Okay."

Girl: “Thank you so much.”

And, another rescue.

Child: “My back hurts really bad.”

Lyles: “You've got a wall on you. We're gonna get you out of here. Stay calm, all right?"

Those two little girls were hustled away before Lyles could even get their names.

He saved their lives. They unknowingly defined his.

Lyles now has several tattoos that highlight his career as a first responder.

"The events of May 20, guiding me down a path, showed me my career path. My calling. What I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Which is help other people," Lyles told News 4.

A calling born of disaster and forever documented by a faulty phone.

The video below is raw and unedited. Some viewers may find it difficult to listen to. 

Data pix.

Latest News

More News

National News

More National

Washington D.C.

More Washington DC Bureau

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ

Don't Miss

Latest News

More News


KFOR Podcasts

More Podcasts

Follow @KFOR on Twitter