Man’s quick action ahead of tornado credited for saving grandfather’s life

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Quick decision making from a Wichita area man might have saved the lives of himself and his grandfather. Richie Parker was outside southeast of Wichita, watching the storm develop when he realized he and his grandfather, Ronald L. Pray Sr. needed to get to safety.

A box car that now sits a few hundred feet from where it sat Friday shows the power of the storm, as well as how quick thinking from Parker may have saved lives.

“Grandpa said to me, he said, ‘it’s not moving, it’s kind of still,’” Parker recalled. “I’m like, ‘okay, we are in it.’ And I turn around to grab that door handle and it was locked and I was like, ‘oh no.’”

Parker said his instincts had him throwing his body, shoulder-first into the door to break it open. With the door to Pray’s home open, Parker said he grabbed his grandfather and the dogs and went to the home’s back room to take shelter.

Parker suffered a few bruises after breaking the door open.

“He come through that door in a hurry,” Pray said. “He didn’t even open toe door. He just, just smashed the door open and came (into) the house,” Pray said.

Parker added perspective to the action he took to protect himself and family.

“I will take all the bruises I can to keep breathing,” he said.

The quick thinking when he discovered the door to safety was locked likely saved Parker and Pray from serious injury, if not worse.

“Right about that time, it sounded like a shotgun when off and, glass everywhere,” Parker said of the moments immediately following he, his grandfather and the pets settling into the shelter.

While tornadoes pose a threat every severe weather season in Kansas, they ultimately do not happen often, especially destructive forces like what on April 29 hit part of southeast Sedgwick County and Andover.

Before the dangerous storm, Parker said most of his family had left the area southeast of Wichita to take cover in Rose Hill. Parker stayed behind to check on his grandfather.

Copyright 2022 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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