North Texas

Garland Fire Captain Remembers Deadly Tornado One Year Later

"You can’t help but not remember the event,” a first responder said.

It was almost one year ago when tornadoes tore across North Texas. Eleven people died in the destructive storms and many others were injured.

The scene where the most fatalities occurred was the stretch of freeway in Garland where Interstate 30 and the George Bush Turnpike meet.

It was dark Dec. 26, 2015. The ground was wet and muddy. Debris and power lines were down everywhere and first responders had the task of finding any survivors who needed help.

“It was way chaotic at first,” said Captain Shawn Russell, with the Garland Fire Department. “On top of the event, just the size of the event.”

Russell saw firsthand the destructive power of an EF4 tornado. Cars were flipped and crushed that night. Victims were thrown clear of the wreckage from the powerful winds.

Some survived, others did not.

“There was two [bodies] over here, one on the other side of that covert, one on the other side of this exit ramp, there was one still inside the car,” said Russell. “There were ones up near the tree line and a couple alongside the service road.”

Nine people died just in this area. Today, a small memorial sits in place to honor the victims.

“Most of the time you have an accident with one, two, three vehicles involved,” said Russell. “This one, the vehicles were spread out. I mean they were everywhere.”

One year later, it is something that Russell says he will never forget.

“I live east of here,” said Russell. “So, when I come home and come this same path every morning coming and going to work and I remember it. You can’t help but not remember the event.”

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