One year later: Evansville man shares his Harrisburg experience - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

One year later: Evansville man shares his Harrisburg experience

It's been a year since the town of Harrisburg, Illinois was ravaged by a massive tornado.

Kevin James of Evansville, was right in the thick of the storm and says he is lucky to be alive today.

For the first time ever, James is telling his story.

30-year-old, Kevin James is a truck driver for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and on February 29, 2012, he was making a delivery to Wal-Mart in Harrisburg.

"I get there at a quarter to five," says James. "At that time, I rolled my product down to the ground. It started raining and then just for my safety and also for the product's safety, I rolled the product up back to the truck and I shut the door behind me. So I had myself closed inside the truck with the door shut."

James says he doesn't know what happened next.

"It was about five minutes later, it started raining pretty hard. I felt the wind gust, and that is all that I remember from that," James tells 14News.

As the EF-4 tornado tore through town, it carried James' truck with it tossing it into a nearby retention pond.

"I've had people tell me that I was conscious throughout the whole time. How, I have absolutely no idea," says James. "But I've had people tell me that, and I do not remember any of that myself though."

James says he was taken from the truck by fellow truckers and Wal-Mart employees.

He was later life-flighted to St. Louis University Hospital.

"And I was all banged up," says James. "Didn't really know what was going on. I was in pretty bad condition."

James' back, neck, and skull were all severely fractured.

Doctors used titanium plates and screws to repair his body and as he focused on recovering, James wasn't fully aware of what he had live through.

"I had, you know, my fiancé tell me what was going on," says James. "I had my uncle tell me what was going on. Doctors tell me what was going on. But I didn't really know anything until I actually got to rehab, which was five, six weeks later."

Looking back, both then and now, James says he is fortunate to be alive.

A year later, James says he's regained a sense of normalcy and he believes his fortune was not by chance.

"Divine intervention, to be honest with you," says James. "That's the only thing that I can describe it. You know, I've even had doctors look at me and they're even amazed that I'm, first of all, that I'm even standing here. They're amazed that I'm able to talk. They're amazed that I'm going...you know, I'm back to work. There's not really many words that I can describe it to you."

A total of eight people died in Harrisburg last year in that tornado.

Kevin James says he feels he could have easily been the ninth, and that he is very grateful he wasn't.

Copyright 2013 WFIE. All rights reserved.

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