The 75-year-old woman’s home was one of at least 15 that were flattened during Saturday’s extreme weather event. No one was seriously injured. The tornado was classified as an EF2, which translates to winds gusting between 178 to 217 km/h.
The mother and son were watching television when Rickey saw the tornado headed straight for them. Without a basement or any type of underground shelter, they sought refuge in the bathtub. Due to their grounded piping, bathtubs are widely believed to be a safe option during twisters.
“We were in the bathtub in the bathroom,” the woman told CBS affiliate KYTX. “Then we heard this ‘boom.’ When we got out, we were outside.”
The elderly woman’s son said it all happened in an instant. He recalled being lifted up into the tornado as it ripped off the roof of his mother’s house, then spinning around and around.
“I couldn’t tell you how high we were. But I don’t even remember hitting the ground because it felt like someone had their hands on us and just placed us on the ground,” he told local news station KSLA.
Charlesetta and Rickey were thrown 20 feet apart back on firm ground. Rickey then crawled over to his mother and covered her with his body.
“I asked if you were alive,” he recalled with his mother. “And you said, ‘Yes, but I can’t breathe because you’re suffocating me!’”
The Williams know it sounds unbelievable that they survived the ordeal, and said God was watching over them.
“I’m blessed,” said the woman. “I hope I don’t have to go through another one! I couldn’t make it. I’d die of a heart attack.”