Victims of North Texas tornado share their stories of surviving in an RV park

May 26, 2024
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Victims of North Texas tornado share their stories of survival


Victims of North Texas tornado share their stories of survival

04:48

The tornado that killed at least seven people in North Texas Saturday night was part of a cell that traveled for 100 miles. South of Valley View where at least five people died, the storm destroyed multiple homes at the RV park at the Ray Roberts marina.

Despite a debris field of more than a half-mile long, all of the residents there survived.

On Sunday morning, CBS News Texas reporter Dawn White spoke with Frank Soltysiak and Donald Wylie, two men who live at the RV park. Here is a lightly edited transcript of their conversation:

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Frank Soltysiak

CBS News Texas


White: What was it like last night when the tornado touched down on where you were?

Soltysiak: I was in a walk-in cooler at the restaurant here at the marina. The owner came around, honking his horn, warning everybody to get out. I don’t know why I heeded that warning. Glad I did. I grabbed my dog, we headed for there and … it was just unbelievable, the sound of all the destruction going on around us. That walk-in cooler didn’t move. That was the most secure structure you could have gone to. And I come out, and everything is destroyed. Just absolutely destroyed. And in a matter of two minutes, it’s gone, everything is gone. But I got my dog, and I got me. 

White: You said you sold your house and you actually moved here to live. 

Soltysiak: Yeah, I live here. I kind of got tired of the taxes and the high insurance, so I’ve been here since December. And this happens. I guess God doesn’t like RV parks. [laughs]

White: That was your RV right back there.

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What remains of Frank Soltysiak’s home

CBS News Texas


Soltysiak: That’s it. It’s gone. It’s all gone. I’m finding a lot of my stuff all in the debris field, you know? I’m finding my Red Bulls out here … My Irish whisky survived. [laughs]

White: Well, we’re glad that you and your 20-year-old Maltese are OK.

Soltysiak: Yeah, Sampson and I, we’re alive. I got the clothes on my back and a leash for him. And I was able to get some of his blankets … and we slept in my car. The car is destroyed also. It must have picked up my car and just spun it, because the whole back end of it is all twisted up, and it’s a big Lincoln, and it’s all twisted up.

White: Donald, if you can tell me what you saw and heard. 

donald-wylie.jpg
Donald Wylie in front of his destroyed camper.

CBS News Texas


Wylie: I was in my camper and I heard the noise, a really loud noise coming. I heard the horn honking. I rolled in my bedroom … As soon as I did, I went ahead and laid on the bed because … I felt the walls starting to vibrate. At that point, it picked up my whole camper over the pickup and sailed it and spun … and then it slammed into another camper, and it exploded. And how I survived, I have no idea. 

White: What went through your mind when this all was happening?

Wylie: Just… it’s hard to describe. But the best thing I can say is I wasn’t upset, or I was just trying to get some place safe, and there was no place to go. Hang on for the ride. So that’s all I can do. And just glad to be here. I’ve lived through some tough times in the last five years, I just keep picking up the pieces and moving forward. 

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