Man rescues parents during Lee County tornadoes

Local News

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A family is thankful to be alive after surviving the EF4 tornados that left southeast Alabama devastated Sunday afternoon.

Eric and Julie Sward live next door to Eric’s son, Chris Sward. While their homes are completely destroyed, what happened after the storm has left the family grateful. 

When the tornado hit Wednesday, everything happened so fast, Chris said.

“I dove and grabbed the couch and closed my eyes and thought, ‘please Lord, don’t let a tree fall on me,'” Chris said. “And the next thing I know I took off and went somewhere.”

After the storm came to a stop, Chris called for his dad and stepmother, not realizing he had a broken leg and cracked ribs. 

Searching for them, Chris moved what furniture he could.

“I’m guessing they hit the ground, then the tub landed on them and the bathroom, the kitchen and laundry room landed on them,” Chris said. “I just moved what I could out of the way.”

Eric and Julie were trapped underneath heavy debris.

“We couldn’t lift nothing, we were pinned,” Eric said, “and then 30 minutes later I heard my son yelling ‘Julie, Dad, Julie, Dad’ and we kept beating the best way we could because it was loud and rainy and he found us.”

The three were able to reunite after surviving a tragic storm that killed 23 people and injured 90, including Chris. Their homes were obliterated during the storm, leaving behind only the foundation. Now, the Sward family focuses on what’s next from here. 

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