Kentucky tornado victim's miracle survival

(CBS News) EAST BERNSTADT, Ky. - To the townspeople of East Bernstadt, population 800, the recent tornadoes were especially devastating. Five people were killed there, and over 40 people were injured after the worst tornado in 25 years swept through the area. Those who aren't in the hospital are helping pick up the remnants of their neighbor's lives.

Among the injured was Jason Ray Jackson, a father of two who is lucky to have survived the storm.

"I mean we could be gone just as easily as we could be standing here," he told CBS News national correspondent Lee Cowan. "I mean, it was about like a coin toss."

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Jackson had just gotten home from work, when his two children -- Brooke, 6, and Jacob, 3 -- asked about the rumbling noise outside. "I walked over to the front door, and I opened the front door up," he recalled.

The tornado almost ripped the screen door out of his hand. It was right in front of him.

"There was no running, no taking shelter, no hiding. It was there," he explained.

Jackson grabbed his kids and hit the floor. He recalled pulling his kids closer to him and telling them it would be okay; he didn't want them to see what was going on. In his mind, he knew the family was dead.

Siblings Brooke and Jacob Jackson miraculously survived the tornado with just cuts and bruises.
CBS

"I said, 'God, I don't ask you for a whole lot ... but just this one time I'm going to ask you just don't let this hurt my babies. Just don't let this hurt my babies,'" he said.

That's when the wind sucked the three out of them out of a hole in the wall. Jackson watched his daughter fly away. "I could hold onto him, but I just couldn't hold my girl. And, I promised her I'll hold on, I won't let go of you no matter what, but I just couldn't hold onto her. It was just too strong," he said.

He blacked out before hitting the ground, nearly 100 yards away. When he came to, the first thing he saw was his son, sitting right on top of him and patting his face. He was trying to wake him up.

Jackson immediately asked where his daughter was, but his son replied that his sister was gone. Heartbroken and with a broken arm and wrist, he carried his son to his sister's house nearby.

When his sister opened the door, his daughter was standing there. She had managed to walk to her aunt's house after she landed. Like her brother, she only suffered cuts and bruises.

"I fell over, I fell on the floor, just collapsed," he said.

All three had survived, and the children are now recovering at their mother's house. Jackson plans on staying in East Bernstadt because he said it has always been home. He figures, if your roots are deep enough in a place, even a tornado can't yank them out.
  • Lee Cowan

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