Stunned survivors narrowly avoid disaster during tornado at Hillsdale Lake

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MIAMI COUNTY, Kan. -- Folks spent Saturday sifting through the rubble following a tornado touchdown at Hillsdale Lake on Friday night. In the midst of surveying the damage, survivors told FOX 4 they realized how close they came to losing their lives.

"We went to get in our truck to get wood,” camper Judy Meyers recalled.

That singular decision probably saved Judy and James Meyers’ lives. When the tornado ripped through the Scott's Creek campground, they ran for the concrete bathrooms. The path of the tornado ripped through their campsite, lifting and crushing their temporary home.

"We just kept hearing things hitting the walls. He looked at me and said, 'It’s gone. The camper is gone,’” Judy said.

Camp host Tom Coffelt didn't have time to take shelter.

"A piece of sheet metal off their camper, came through the trees and hit me in the back," he said.

Scraped up and shaken, Coffelt dove under the Meyers’ truck, clutching the tire and axle for dear life.

"I'm 69 and I never want to go through that again," he exclaimed.

Gary Shroeder said his daughter delayed them, or they may have been inside a camper when the tornado hit.

"It looks like a salvage yard. Everything is thrown everywhere. It’s a total mess," Shroeder said.

"We are lucky it wasn't 30 minutes later.  We were on our way to being there," Christine Shroeder said.

Austin Weiterman had another close call.  He was supposed to be at his camper with friends until their plans unexpectedly changed.

"Right there is a camper on top of my camper," he said.

Across the road, Weiterman’s mom was in a camper when it flipped. She happened to be in the only small space that wasn't crushed.

“My mom made it out with a narrow escape," Weiterman said.

Survivors were still stunned when they looked at the rubble at the campsite and realized there were no lives lost, and not even a serious injury. If it weren't for changed plans, a concrete building, and a well place pickup truck, things could have ended much worse.