Weather Channel producer/photographer Austin Anderson underwent surgery today for injuries suffered during Friday night’s swarm of tornadoes outside Oklahoma City. Anderson suffered a cracked sternum, five broken ribs and a broken cervical vertebra. Surgeons installed four rods and eight screws to his spinal column.
The Texas-based freelancer talked with the Austin American-Statesman‘s Ken Herman about the ordeal last night.
“We were on the north and east side of this particular thunderstorm,” Anderson said, identifying that as “the dangerous side.” They tried to get to the safer side. But, “for some strange, unknown meteorological reason, it turned abruptly to the left and headed right for us.”
“The windows blew out as the car began to lift into the air from the tornado and it started tumbling broadside,” he said. “We were all strapped in.”
“We must have rolled 10-15 times,” Anderson said, “We hit the ground and rolled some more and landed on the wheels with the top of the driver’s side completely pancaked down to the steering wheel where I was sitting.”
Anderson, along with meteorologist Mike Bettes and cameraman Brad Reynolds, who were also in the vehicle, were able to get out of the truck. Their equipment was strewn over a 150-yard area. Anderson found his cellphone and called home. He’ll be in a back brace for three months, telling Herman, “I’m going to miss all of hurricane season.”
(Photo: Kim Nugent-Anderson)