WINNIPEG – A recently discovered video of the most powerful tornado in Canada’s history is also adding to the legacy of the fallen Canadian soldier who recorded it.
Cpl. James Hayward Arnal was driving by Elie, Man., on the evening of June 22, 2007, when an F5 tornado tore through the area. He shot a hair-raising video very close to the massive twister, as the army buddies travelling with him from their base in Shilo to Winnipeg hooted and hollered in amazement.
“They drove right by it and Jim was filming the whole thing,” Wendy Hayward, his mother, told Global News Thursday.
Arnal, 25, was later deployed on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and killed July 18, 2008, by a roadside bomb. The tornado video became just one more memory for his devastated mother to eventually discover. She stumbled across it just a few days ago.
“A year later he died and I got all his belongings,” his mother recalls. “I think I’d seen it. I don’t remember much after he died for the longest time, but on his birthdays and special holidays and stuff and the anniversary of his death, I kind of go through his things, and I happened to find this last Friday and looked at it and could hear his voice.”
The tornado that swept through Elie that day blew homes off their foundations and threw vehicles in the air. Incredibly, no one was hurt. Environment Canada rated the twister as an F5, the most powerful ever recorded in Canada.
Other videos exist of the tornado, but Arnal’s rediscovered images provide both a new viewpoint of the storm and another piece of his legacy for his mom, who created a charitable foundation in her son’s name.
“Jim’s foundation is about seizing the day, and this is a perfect example of how James would experience life and take it all in and embrace every moment that he had,” Wendy Hayward said.
Arnal’s foundation is called Carpe Diem 88 and has raised money for a group helping to build homes in Mexico and to train a dog that helps sniff out land mines in Bosnia.
© Shaw Media, 2014