Joplin Tornado Survivor Rescued After Sending 'Goodbye' Text Message

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 8:56 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- One of the survivors of the tornado in Joplin is being treated at St. John hospital in Tulsa. Even though he's in a hospital bed, and he no longer has a house to return to, Les Workman said he's lucky.

"To know that you got a second chance," he said.

He knows so many people in Joplin, where he's lived all his life, weren't as fortunate.

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

As the tornado approached Joplin, Workman was unaware of the pending danger, until getting a text from his girlfriend.

"If he had stayed in his workshop, he wouldn't be here," Karen Clement, his girlfriend, said.

Workman rushed to help his elderly neighbor get to her basement. That act of kindness saved her life and his.

"As soon as we had gotten to the bottom of the floor, the house just lifted off of us," he said.

Then the debris began falling. Workman watched helplessly as the tornado dropped his neighbor's car from the sky, and it landed on top of him.

"I looked up and here it was coming," he said.

He ended up with a broken pelvis.

Several things happened that saved Workman's life. First, that text message, but also as he was helping his neighbor down the stairs, the power went out. Everything got dark and he used his cell phone to light the way down the stairs. That phone was still in his hand when the car landed on him.

"My hands were pinned in front of me, but I was able to find the recall button on that text and I was able to respond a little bit to her, mainly to say goodbye," Workman said.

The text simply said "I'm trapped. I'm hurt bad. I love you."

"It wasn't all spelled right, but enough I understood that he was saying goodbye to me," Clement said.

If he couldn't have sent that text, he would have likely died in that basement.

"Nobody would have know where he was," Clement said.

"I've been on a real extreme roller coaster ride these last few days," said Workman.

Although his hips and his heart hurt, he's grateful for the care he's getting and for second chances.

"The only thing I've got is my cell phone, and when it quits working I'm probably going to have it bronzed," he said.

Workman is expected to be in the hospital in Tulsa for a few more days, and will then be transferred to a hospital in Springfield. Despite the destruction in Joplin, he's the only person in his family to be injured, even though several of those loved ones lost their homes too.