Man injured in Brazos County tornado shares survival story

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 4:03 PM CDT
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The National Weather Service is confirming a strong tornado touched down just east of Bryan Wednesday afternoon.

The agency had a meteorologist on the ground Thursday, surveying the damage. They believe an EF-2 tornado hit with winds of 120 miles-an-hour. The storm does not appear to have been on the ground very long, but it packed a punch. Most of the damage is near Coyote Run Road, north of FM 1179 and east of Bryan.

"I crawled right out from underneath this. See that little space in there? That's where I was," said Kevin Fitzgerald. He was at his hobby shop where he takes care of cars on Coyote Run Road when the storm hit.

He said the walls started bowing and part of the building collapsed. It happened all in less than a minute.

"They always say go to interior room, so I think I'll go to to the bathroom and grab the toilet since it's bolted to the ground," explained Fitzgerald. "I saw the building and the wall and the bathroom come up and then I felt myself get pulled. Next thing I know I was going fast through the air and getting hit by all kinds of things," he said. "When I landed, a bunch of stuff landed on top of me and I crawled out," he said.

"He was on the corner. He said that it lifted him and it slammed him into a wall," said Danny Morrison, who rushed to help Fitzgerald. Morrison owns Epicures Catering and was working in the same area.

The National Weather Service said tornadoes this strong are rare.

"This tornado didn't have a great appearance on radar. It didn't show up as even a thunderstorm more of a shower," said Dan Reilly, National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist.

"This type of tornado can develop a little bit differently than more of our typical ones which are big old thunderstorms with deep circulations," he said.

"This one, we think, kind of spun up very quickly from the ground up and it's something we want to look back at to kind of understand better," Reilly said.

"Pretty severe tornado damage. We think EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is very significant. Most tornadoes we get in this area are zeroes and ones, but this seems to rate EF-2 as far as the worst of the damage in this area," Reilly explained.

"It was confined to a relatively small area. Obviously we had lots of reports of trees, and trees down, power lines down that type of thing. Most of the structural damage was confined to the Coyote Run area," said Michele Meade, Brazos County Emergency Management Coordinator.

Fitzgerald said he feels fortunate. He walked out with a broken foot, cuts, and bruises.

"When I went up in there air I was like 'holy...' because I remember clawing for the ground trying to stay on the ground," he said. "I told God 'I ain't dying in no tornado,' no way," said Fitzgerald.

Brazos County Emergency Management says Fitzgerald is the only injury from this storm. He says he does have insurance to replace the property and is leasing this building.

The Weather Service is still working on tracking the full path of this tornado.

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