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Decades later, man reunites with family he helped rescue from Catoosa tornado

Decades later, man reunites with family he helped rescue from Catoosa tornado (KTUL)

It’s fear and respect for mother nature that Tulsa’s Channel 8 storm chaser David Gaede found April 24, 1993.

“As we go farther up the hill, it became more obvious to what was hidden in the rain,” said Gaede.

Wrapped and hidden in the rain was a tornado tearing down I-44.

“My son said, 'dad what are we going to do?' I said we’ve got to get out of the car and we’ve got to get out of the car now,” said Gaede.

RELATED | Catoosa tornado victim remembers deadly twister 25 years later

As Gaede was driving west on I-44, car after car passed him driving straight into the storm. He made the split-second decision to drive down an embankment and turn into a neighborhood before running into a dead end.

“This was the only house at the top of the hill,” said Gaede. “They’re here!”

What happened next is something Gaede likes to call a divine appointment.

Twenty-five years ago, there was no time for handshakes or make introductions. Gaede ran into the house, grabbed the girls who were inside and ran out into the storm shelter.

Gaede said a man was pumping water out of the storm shelter.

“We dove into the storm shelter and said there’s two feet of water in the storm shelter. We were standing there holding on the storm cellar door with all that we had,” said Gaede.

Back then, there weren't high tech warnings like we have now. There weren't early warnings.

Bruce’s Truck Stop was shredded. Cars and people were thrown around. In the end, seven people lost their lives and more than 100 were injured.

Back in the storm shelter, two strangers held on tight to the door and prayed for the storm to pass.

Gaede still has the old video he shot on his camera as they were hiding in the shelter. You can see the kids and men resurface to find trees uprooted, cars turned and damage everywhere.

It’s been two and a half decades since Gaede and the man he turned to that day have seen each other.

There’s just one question Gaede never knew the answer to. “I’ve got to ask, 25 years without knowing this, what’s your name?”

“Pat, Pat Hurst.”

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