Henryville Teacher Recounts Tornado Survival

Jeff Harrell Was Inside High School As Tornado Struck

A teacher who survived the deadly tornado that hit Henryville in early March spoke out two weeks later about the terrifying storm.

Henryville High School math teacher Jeff Harrell was inside the school when the tornado struck, and surveillance video captured him as he ducked for cover.

Harrell said he made the decision to ride out the storm to make sure students inside the school were safe.

Harrell’s two daughters, sophomore Jasmine, and senior Jenna, were among them.

"School let out and everybody was kind of going crazy, it was chaotic. Jenna and I both went to Dad's room, and Dad said, 'Just go! Just get wherever you are going as quickly as you can! Get there safe!’" Jasmine Harrell said.

Many students were able to escape the school, but about 80 students and staff remained inside the building.

"We'd gotten everyone in the front office area and for some reason, I just went out the back door and ran down the hallway. I just wanted to make sure there weren't any other kids or people running around back in those hallways,” Jeff Harrell said.

Harrell said he then heard the sound of a freight train rolling in, RTV6's Chance Walser reported.

"All I was trying to do was get in the smallest ball I've ever been in my life, and stay down and stay tight to that wall. The pressure got so great that my ears started hurting,” he said.

Moments later, the tornado had passed.

During those intense moments, Harrell said he thought about his wife at home and his two daughters who narrowly escaped the tornado.

During the chaotic aftermath, Harrell said he heard an unforgettable call from down the street.

“I walked past a couple of volunteer firefighters who I knew and they told me they had seen my dad. He was down at the community building,” Jasmine Harrell said.

"I'm standing up talking to one of the firemen and up on the street I hear, ‘Dad, Dad!’ And I’m like, ‘That voice sounds familiar.’ I looked up and it's my daughter Jasmine,” Jeff Harrell said.

His daughter Jasmine was equally as relieved.

"I just ran through puddles of water and everything and jumped in his arms,” Jasmine Harrell said.

“She just jumped in my arms crying, so that's when it really hit me,” Jeff Harrell said.

Harrell and his daughters said they are anxious to get back to life as normal. School is scheduled to begin April 2 in Scottsburg.

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