Vinita High School Graduate Killed Saving Others In Joplin Tornado

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 10:29 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

VINITA, Oklahoma -- Terry Lucas got the word late Sunday that his son was killed in Joplin. He was the manager on duty at a Pizza Hut, where he and two others were killed.

5/26/2011 Related Story: Joplin Tornado Death Toll Climbs To 126

A survivor says that Christopher Lucas, 26, pushed them into the freezer and tried to tie the door closed.

"Until the tornado was coming and he said he was holding on with all his might and he said he was trying to hold him and at the very end, he said everything blew up and sucked him out and he was gone," Terry Lucas said.

Lucas was a Navy veteran, the father of two daughters with another child on the way. The heartbreak his family is feeling is compounded by a delay and confusion over getting his body back for a funeral.

"And they don't know when any of the bodies will be released at this time and they can't tell us why, they can't tell us when they can't tell us nothing. They won't even tell us where they're at," Terry Lucas said. 

"It just makes it hard to make funeral arrangements for him," he added.  "I don't know what else to do and where to call or who to get a hold of. I just want to get my son back. That's all I want."

The scope of the disaster overwhelmed local resources, so Missouri state and federal authorities are involved in the identification process. That's led to so much confusion that Christopher's name is back on the list of the missing.

The family has identified the body twice, but can't find out where it's been taken.

"She said those bodies are not being released right now. Its in an undisclosed location and nobody knows," Angela, Terry's wife, said.

While the Lucas family waits, their only comfort is knowing Christopher died trying to save his employees and customers.

"He's a hero," Terry said, crying. "I'll always remember him for that."

The Lucas' say that other families are having the same experience. They're planning a funeral in Vinita, with military honors, once they get more information from the authorities up in Missouri.