Elderly Man Films Tornado That Kills His Wife, Neighbor

Clem Schultz, 85, says his back was contorted like a question mark
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2016 7:49 AM CDT
Elderly Man Films Tornado That Kills His Wife, Neighbor
This screenshot from the phone video shows the tornado fast approaching Schultz's house.   (Clemence Schultz)

The footage is chilling, especially knowing that the fast-approaching tornado in Fairdale, Ill., is headed straight for the elderly man filming it, and that it is on the verge of killing his wife and their neighbor. Yet Clarence "Clem" Schultz, 85, who'd gone upstairs to get two lanterns, having assumed they'd be without electricity for the night, doesn't cry out as the twister bears down on him—he's too busy wrestling with a sheet and clutching onto debris from the chimney as it collapses. (He suffered a compressed broken vertebra.) Now a year later, in spite of all that it took, Schultz tells the Daily Herald he's proud of the footage, which he's just posted to Vimeo, because it's being shared, studied by meteorologists, and "saving lives."

Schultz likely stayed on the second floor because he didn't have time to get back to his wife downstairs, and their cellar isn't big enough to hold more than a furnace. Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese concedes after watching the footage that it would be tricky to determine where the funnel was heading (Schultz assumed it would go south of his house), but she adds that it's remarkable Schultz survived and his wife did not, given he was in the more dangerous part of the house. The Weather Channel calls it the "closest view" inside an EF4 tornado they've ever seen and describes the footage as "terrifying," while a self-described storm chaser says in a Daily Herald comment that the enormous twister was her "first tornado intercept and I kid you not—I thought I was going to throw up." Schultz's dog Missy, who went missing for two days, remains his steadfast companion. (This couple was on FaceTime when a tornado killed the wife.)

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