Utah teens injured by tornado recount terrifying experience

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 23:49:09-04

RIVERDALE, Utah -- It started as just another day for a group of students at the Utah Military Academy in Riverdale. They were outside for a training run Thursday afternoon when the winds started to pick up, according to 17-year-old Bryce Burgess.

“The wind was blowing and I could feel leaves hitting me in the back like rocks,” Burgess said.

Then, they say a tornado formed right in front of their eyes. Braydon Thompson, 17, got picked up by the storm.

“I got picked up and thrown back, and I hit my head on the cement, and it knocked me out,” Thompson said.

Sincere Lucas, 15, was also tossed around by the tornado.

“I actually got picked up in it and got spun around, smashed to the ground a couple times,” he said.

When the storm let go of the boys, they ran to a nearby tree to take cover with the rest of their classmates.

“While I’m holding on to that pine tree it gets lifted out of the ground," Lucas said. "I feel a vibration, but I’m already in shock. Keep holding, that’s what I was told. Keep holding, keep holding, don’t let go."

That tree ended up falling on Lucas’ arm. Luckily, he walked away with nothing more than a hairline fracture.

Doctors told Thompson he had a minor spinal injury, a bruised pelvis, and a concussion.

Burgess got some cuts and bruises. They say these injuries were minor compared to what they thought would happen.

“I saw my life flash before my eyes a couple times, which really scared me," Lucas said. "Just thinking about, 'I’m gonna die.'”

Burgess said it was a frightening experience.

“I was really just thinking about my family," he said. "I was worried I wasn’t going to see them. Worried I wouldn’t come out alive."

The group ended up taking cover at Joann’s Fabric store. It was a decision that saved their lives.

“All those trees are gone, so if we stayed there any longer, we wouldn’t be here,” Thompson said.

There was no damage to the school itself, but there were more than a dozen cars that had broken windows.