National News

Store manager saved workers during tornado

Posted June 20, 2018 10:07 a.m. EDT

— Almost a week after a tornado hit a shopping center near Wilkes-Barre, we continue to hear some amazing stories of what happened that night.

Barnes and Noble manager Joe Stager potentially saved two of his coworkers lives in last Wednesday's tornado. He put them underneath an anchored information desk and laid on top of them until it was safe.

Stager was inside at the time and says he knew he had to take cover when all he could hear was the heavy rain pounding down.

"As I was running, I could see ceiling tiles falling down and it seemed like it was actually raining in the store," Stager recalled.

Five employees were in the store when the tornado came through. Stager told two employees to get away from the windows and he to an anchored information desk and laid on top of two of his other coworkers, keeping them safe from the 130-mile-per-hour winds.

"I wasn't even sure if we'd have time to get anywhere else. Half of it was really just luck. It was close, it was right there, it was away from everything."

Employees made their way to the parking lot and they saw that their car windows were blown out in the twister.

"I pulled a light that was wedged under my wheel. it had to be two feet by two feet, it was one of the lights off the poles from the parking lot," said Stager.

No one inside the store was hurt and employees say it could be because of Stager's quick thinking.

"He's one of the many rocks we have in our store and he's always just so good at staying calm, cool, collected. I don't think anybody could've reacted better than he did," Madeleine Alves said.

"It's managers like that that save lives," said Kim Lee Lockner.

Days later, crews are already boarding up part of the building and Stager says he has a new outlook on life.

"I guess it is a wakeup call. I can look at my age and where things are at and I'm like, you know what? all is good. I'm in good shape and this is a reminder of that and take advantage of things," Stager said.

Barnes and Noble corporate is still assessing the damage. Employees say they've been told that later this week, they'll find out if they still have their jobs after this tornado.