Wilson man's tornado video goes viral

Posted April 19, 2011

— A video filmed by a Wilson man who sat calmly in his truck as whipping winds and flying debris engulfed the area during a tornado touchdown Saturday has gone viral, prompting interview requests from as far away as Japan.

Steven Hoag, a state Department of Transportation worker, was in the driver's seat of his work-issued bucket truck talking on the phone to his sister when the storm hit. He shot the video with his digital camera and sent it to WRAL News minutes later.

The video has now received more than 250,000 hits on YouTube. 

But it's Hoag's calm narration as he sat in the parking lot of Fred's Food Club watching as the twister ripped roofs from houses and headed straight toward him that's blowing people away.

Wilson man's tornado video goes viral Wilson man's tornado video goes viral

"Maintain composure – that's something I've always tried to do," Hoag said Tuesday. "The other thoughts were, 'This could get bad real fast.'"

As the tornado neared, Hoag said, he did start to get nervous, but he remained calm and kept his camera rolling.

"(My) heart was racing," he said. "A little excitement, but fear was in there, too."

He said he realized he might be in danger and offered this message to his sister that can be heard on his recording: "Hang on, I love you."

"If someone needed to hear my last words, that's what I wanted them to hear," Hoag said.

Despite the attention he's getting – Hoag was interviewed on The Today Show – he said he's not sure he'd do it all over again.

"Regrets? Oh yes. Next time (I'll) keep driving," he said.


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  • Ouroboros Apr 20, 2011

    I went through the exact same thing last year about this time in Zebulon, sitting in a little Geo Metro. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Never felt more alive. I'm sure it's not a good thing for the "timid types" tho. I was ready to bail out and into a large culvert drain, but decided to ride it out like this gentleman. My hat's off to you dude!
    It's a wild ride!

  • Phil in Wilson Apr 20, 2011

    Incredible Video!!!

  • gallbury Apr 20, 2011

    After all the precautions that the NWS, and the local weather officials "preach" to people about seeking shelter, "way from cars and trucks," this yahoo sits is his truck, about as "duh" as anyone can possibly be, and films a tornado. Now, considering the amount of coverage this is getting, what do you think the next bystander will do, given the same situation: he will try to get closer to best this imbecile's viral cam shot, leading to his or her death or a similar disaster.

  • jzdukefan Apr 20, 2011

    Personally I am glad that there were people who were brave enough to film these tornados and there devestation. Honeslty, it can only help people who study tornados understand them more in depth and help save more peoples lives.

  • themako Apr 20, 2011

    to Skyyekatfromafar: the man admitted that next time he should have continued driving. And as far as blowing things out of proportion: #1. How many times have you been in a dangerous situation trying to save someone that had purposely done something stupid? & #2. I am tired of my taxes going to pay for it!

  • soyousay Apr 20, 2011

    see....I never saw so many here blame the messenger..

    becuase some of this people do this for their 15 minutes of fame, and who is going to pay for the damage to that truck

  • superman Apr 20, 2011

    I watched the video and was not impressed. He risked his life to record that? Most of the video didnt really show anything. The first part was from a distance and the last part was the inside of the truck.

  • skyyekatfromafar Apr 20, 2011

    I can't decide if I hate the word "viral" more, or the people that insist on constantly using it and often using it incorrectly."
    meargle--I couldn't agree more! The words used (adapted, actually) often in the 'tech' world are, at best, borrowed. The word, viral is a medical term related to the word 'virus' and has nothing to do with computers/their 'language, or the Internet. Period. As for the comments left by themako--what would you have the fellow do instead? Try to 'out drive' the tornado? Fat chance of that happening. And as was shown in the WRAL coverage--his vehicle only sustained minor damage. But you are of that 'crowd' that loves to blow things out of proportion. Sad. For all others who made critical comments re: what amounts to an almost act of bravery I would liken his actions to that of the person/people that recorded the fatal end of the zeppelin, Hindenburg and the reporter Herbert Morrison as he gave an eye witness account of that disaster.

  • Call It Like I See It Apr 20, 2011

    "A vehicle is one of the safer places you can be"

    No love... that's lightening, an F250 is a matchbox car to a tornado.

  • bubbasu1 Apr 20, 2011

    STUPID ,just plain irresponsible!! I wonder how his family would have felt had he been killed , how would his kids and wife get along without him . To think he chose taking a video and possibly being killed ( verses thinking about his family) is shear ignorance. He could have gotten out there and chose not to . Who is going to pay for damages to the State truck that he put in harms way?