The man’s quick action before the tornado is credited with saving his grandfather’s life

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – A Wichita-area man’s quick decision-making could have saved his life and that of his grandfather. Richie Parker was outside southeast Wichita watching the storm develop when he realized he and his grandfather, Ronald L. Pray Sr. needed to get to safety.

A boxcar that now sits a few hundred feet from where it was on Friday shows the power of the storm, as well as Parker’s quick thinking that may have saved lives.

“Grandpa told me, he said, ‘it’s not moving, it’s kind of still,'” Parker recalled. “I’m like, ‘Okay, we’re in.’ And I turned around to grab that doorknob and it was locked and I was like, ‘oh no.’

Parker said instinct prompted him to throw his body, shoulder first, into the door to open it. With the door to Pray’s house open, Parker said he grabbed his grandfather and the dogs and went to the back room of the house to take cover.

Parker suffered a few bruises after kicking down the door.

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

Parker put into perspective the steps he has taken to protect himself and his family.

“I’m going to take all the bruises I can to keep breathing,” he said.

The quick thinking when he discovered the security door was locked likely saved Parker and Pray from serious injury, or worse.

“About that time it looked like a shotgun when it was off and, glass all over it,” Parker said of the moments immediately following him, his grandfather, and the animals of company settling in the refuge.

Although tornadoes are a threat in every severe weather season in Kansas, ultimately they don’t happen often, especially destructive forces like the one on April 29 that hit parts of southeastern Sedgwick County and Andover.

Before the dangerous storm, Parker said most of his family left the area southeast of Wichita to seek shelter in Rose Hill. Parker stayed behind to watch over his grandfather.

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