Wilson man's tornado video goes viral

Posted April 19, 2011 5:17 p.m. EDT
Updated April 19, 2011 7:27 p.m. EDT

— 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.

"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.