JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — David Bell was in his truck on the side of the highway when a tornado hit Missouri’s capital of Jefferson City.
As the winds shrieked around him, houses collapsed, transformers blew out in flashes and trees snapped.
The tornado caught sleeping residents off guard late Wednesday night, sending debris 13,000 feet into the air, the National Weather Service said.
Inside Bell’s truck, his windscreen shattered as he sat in stunned silence, watching through the gaping hole as debris flew.
Part of a house was blown underneath his trailer, he said.
Bell had pulled over to the shoulder of Highway 54 with 44,500 pounds of soda in his trailer after the weather alert went off on his phone, not knowing he’d be in the path of the storm.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” he said. “I watched a bunch of transformers blown. Houses next to me completely obliterated. A house halfway underneath my trailer.”
During those few moments, he thought about his family and whether he’d see them again, he said.
“That storm picked me up and slammed me down like I was nothing but a soda can,” he said.
“I’m still a little shook up, I ain’t gonna lie. I saw signs flying. I saw signs lay over. And then all I could do is brace myself for the impact. It seemed like it lasted forever.”
The tornado damaged Bell’s truck, and he had to cut his seat belt using a pocket knife and climb out through the broken windshield. He suffered cuts to his face and elbows.
"It definitely gave me a new outlook on life," he said, his voice shaking. "Very grateful that I'm alive. I should have been smarter and heeded the warnings. I'm just glad God was with me tonight."
After a wrecker picks up his truck, he'll go home to Eldon, Missouri, he said.