Joplin man narrowly survives tornado
Jennifer Lee Preyss
May 23, 2011 at 12:23 a.m.
While Victoria residents Kim McDaniel and husband, Dr. Dean McDaniel, watched their 13-year-old son's baseball team win the BCU Classic tournament in College Station Sunday night, Kim's father was winning a life-or-death game with a tornado in Joplin, Mo.
Kim McDaniel's 64-year-old father, Jack Horine, a longtime resident of Joplin, was driving along Joplin Street in a GMC Acadia when an F-4 twister leveled the town about 5:45 p.m. killing 89 people. On Monday, the death toll rose to more than 100.
"He pulled his car over and stopped. He heard the noise, and the debris started coming and he said, 'This is it. I'm going to die right here,'" McDaniel said, recalling a phone conversation she had with her father Sunday night.
Earlier in the day, McDaniel said her family was enjoying "a very exciting day," as her son Grant's team prepared for the championship game. Then, as the tournament began, her cell phone curiously starting ringing.
"My husband's mother called and we thought she was just calling to say hello, and we were going to call her back later. But she kept calling over and over," McDaniel said.
The news McDaniel's mother-in-law relayed over the phone was of the tornado in Joplin, which appeared on the news to be severe.
"I'm thinking, 'I'm from there and I know tornados hit,'" McDaniel said, brushing off her mother-in-law's concern, returning her attention to the game.
McDaniel then called her daughters who were at home in Victoria and asked them to investigate the damage.
"One of them was watching the news and another was on the computer," she said. Her daughters confirmed the storm's devastation.
Through Facebook and phone calls, each the McDaniel's Missouri family members had been accounted for. All except her father.
"I was trying not to panic," she said. "Literally in the last inning of the game, the other team had caught up to us, and we were ahead by one run. That last bat, our boys won the game, and that's when I got word that my father was OK. I felt like my heart had been torn apart, and I kind of got teary-eyed."
Hours later, McDaniel learned how close her father came to losing his life in the storm.
"He climbed out of the car and looked around, and he said everything was devastated. Houses were leveled," she said. "He said, 'I've seen hell, I've been to hell and back, and you don't ever want to see this.'"
Horine suffered a broken arm and lacerations on his arm. He was then transported to a downtown area triage, where later he was transported by EMS to a hospital in Springfield, Mo. McDaniel said she was unclear how he was transported throughout the night because his cell phone was on low battery, and he was unable to speak for long periods of time.
She said her father was able to stay overnight in the hospital and was driven back to Joplin by a Red Cross bus Monday morning.
McDaniel said her father is "pretty certain" that his home is intact, "but he doesn't know yet."
In the wake of the devastation, which stretched about 60 miles and ripped a six-mile path through the southwestern Missouri town of 50,000 people, McDaniel said her father doesn't appear to have plans to leave.
"I hope he'll come stay with us, and I think it would be good for him to get out of there for a while, but he's got a lot of family and close friends there, so I'm not sure if he'll come or not," she said.
Reflecting on her father's triumphant win over the tornado, McDaniel said, "It's unexplainable why his car didn't flip up, or become mangled in the storm. For whatever reason, God wasn't ready for him yet."