Driver Saves Busload of Kids in Indiana Tornado

But loses three relatives of her own

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 5, 2012 12:37 PM CST

(Newser) – An Indiana bus driver saved the lives of more than a dozen schoolkids even as her own home was ripped off its foundation by a tornado. Terry Kleopfer, who has worked as a driver for 23 years, recognized warning signs as she was carting a busload of children Friday afternoon. "It was hailing so bad and I could see the cloud and I could see it was coming," she tells Fox 59. So she and two other drivers pulled into a general store.

There, the drivers and sixty kids hid behind a water cooler during the storm. Had Kleopfer kept driving, she would have quickly run right into the tornado. But the storm did kill four people in Indiana's Jefferson County—and three of them were Kleopfer's relatives. "My aunt and my uncle and their great grandbaby," she says. "They're gone and there's nothing left…nothing but sticks." As for her own house, it was dropped 100 yards away from its foundations—in one piece. "The Wizard of Oz," says her daughter. "It's uncanny."

A screen grab of the wreckage from Fox 59 video.
A screen grab of the wreckage from Fox 59 video.   (fox59.com)
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