Victims of North Texas tornado share their stories of surviving in an RV park


North Texas Tornado Victims Share Their Stories of Survival

North Texas Tornado Victims Share Their Stories of Survival


The tornado that killed at least seven people in North Texas Saturday night was part of a cell that traveled 100 miles. South of Valley View, where at least five people died, the storm destroyed several homes at the Ray Roberts Marina RV Park.

Despite a debris field more than half a mile long, all residents there survived.

On Sunday morning, CBS News Texas reporter Dawn White spoke with Frank Soltysiak and Donald Wylie, two men who live at the RV park. Here is a slightly edited transcript of their conversation:

Frank Soltysiak

CBS News Texas

White: What was it like last night when the tornado hit where you were?

Soltysiak: It was in a cooler in the marina restaurant. The owner came over, honking his horn, warning everyone to leave. I don't know why I heeded that warning. I'm glad I did. I took my dog, we went over there and… it was unbelievable, the sound of all the destruction going on around us. That walk-in fridge didn't move. This was the safest structure you could have gone to. And I go out, and everything is destroyed. Absolutely destroyed. And in a matter of two minutes, it's gone, it's all gone. But I have my dog ​​and I held on to me.

White: You said you sold your house and moved here.

Soltysiak: Yes, I live here. I got tired of the high taxes and insurance so I've been here since December. And this happens. I guess God doesn't like trailer parks. [laughs]

White: That was your caravan back there.

What remains of Frank Soltysiak's house

CBS News Texas

Soltysiak: That's it. Left. It's all gone. I'm finding a lot of my stuff in the debris field, you know? I'm finding my Red Bulls here… My Irish whiskey survived. [laughs]

White: Well, we're glad you and your 20-year-old Maltese are doing well.

Soltysiak: Yes, Sampson and I, we're alive. I have the clothes on his back and a strap for him. And I was able to get some of his blankets…and we slept in my car. The car is also destroyed. He must have grabbed my car and flipped it because the whole back end is twisted, it's a big Lincoln and it's all twisted.

White: Donald, if you could tell me what you saw and heard.

Donald Wylie in front of his destroyed caravan.

CBS News Texas

Wylie: I was in my trailer and I heard the noise, a very loud noise. I heard the horn. I rolled into my bedroom… As soon as I did I went ahead and laid down on the bed because… I felt the walls start to vibrate. At that point, it took my entire camper on top of the pickup truck and sailed it over and spun around…and then crashed into another camper and exploded. And how I survived, I have no idea.

White: What was going through your mind when all this was happening?

Wylie: It's just… it's hard to describe. But the best I can tell is that he wasn't upset, or he was just trying to get somewhere safe and there was nowhere to go. Hang on for the ride. So that's all I can do. And glad to be here. I've had some tough times in the last five years, I'm still picking up the pieces and moving forward.


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