Linden man recovers after being pinned by tornado debris

Posted May 4, 2011 1:55 p.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2011 6:25 p.m. EDT

— Donald Raynor will never forget the day a tornado whipped through his Linden home, tearing off the roof and wall and sending them flying into his son.

Now he's helping Bruce Raynor, 43, piece together the moments before the accident that cost him his sight in one eye.

"My mother and father were hollering, 'Where's Bruce? Where's Bruce?' I was told they found me, kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West, underneath the house with my legs and arms hanging out," Bruce Raynor said.

Though debris, demolished homes, downed trees and other evidence of the April 16 twisters are still visible near the family's home, like in many of the state's storm-ravaged communities, the details are fuzzy for Bruce Raynor.

"The last thing I said, I started hollering 'tornado, tornado,'" Bruce Raynor said. "I was just thinking about my parents."

He was outside when the tornado hit, but he never made it back to the house. Bruce Raynor got swept up by the storm, and the roof and bedroom wall that were also swirling in the funnel cloud landed on his head.

"I really thought he was gone," Donald Raynor said. "His face was down in that insulation. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't breathe in the position he was in."

But somehow, he survived. Donald Raynor credits an emergency responder with saving his son, saying he used a hose from a fish tank to feed air to Bruce Raynor while they worked to remove the debris from on top of him.

Bruce Raynor's neck is broken, he needed facial reconstruction surgery and he's blind in his left eye.

"I'm just thankful my parents didn't have to go through a funeral," Bruce Raynor said. "I'd have much rather it be me than them, but I'm glad we're all here together."

A fund has been set up to help Bruce Raynor with his recovery. Donations can be sent to: North State Bank, c/o The Raynor Family Fund, 2413 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, 27607.