As fate would have it, Dustin Ellison was driving his pickup truck not far from that same 7-11, since rebuilt, on Monday, May 20, 2013, when the latest
EF-5 tornado struck the same area. He was returning home from work, "listening on the radio and driving down the interstate" - I-35. "They made it very
clear it was taking the exact same path and it was bad."
Oklahomans, especially those who reside in Tornado Alley, have a degree of expertise in these matters. "Any time you have a storm like that around here,
one that size, when they set down they don't set down and lift quickly. They stay. As this one did for 17 miles."
Ellison thought the tornado was on its way north, but it ended up veering west. He pulled over on the shoulder of I-35 and watched it cross the highway.
Then he took the very next exit "because I just knew people needed help."
As fate would have it, that was the same exit leading to SW 4th Street. He parked right in front of the medical center and heard screams from
across the street - where the 7-11 had been rebuilt.
"It was just chaotic, man," Ellison recalled as we re-visited the site. "People with wounds were walking around in a daze, it was literally like a war.
People were walking around not knowing what to do."
The 7-11 was again gone, in its place a mess of twisted steel, foodstuffs and debris. Ellison, wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap, thick framed glasses,
and a University of Oklahoma sweatshirt, motioned towards thick white walls that had once served as the convenience store's freezer.
The dozens of rescuers who had converged on the store had been told that some locals had sought shelter in the freezer, which had been smashed. They
struggled to remove the debris as quickly as they could, but there was likely no speed that would have been enough. Inside they found the bodies of Megan
Futrell, 29, and her infant son, Case.
"She was protecting him," he said, his voice cracking.
Ellison pointed towards the ground, at a pair of work gloves. They were the same ones he had been wearing when he came upon the scene two days before. He
didn't want them.
"They have blood on 'em," he said. "From bodies I moved. Just a bad, bad deal."
He took a moment. "I wish I could have said I pulled survivors out. That's probably the hardest thing. I'm hoping that those people were killed instantly."
After hours of recovery efforts that night he drove straight to the home of his ex-wife and hugged his two daughters as tight as he could.
Ellison noted that this wasn't the first time he'd ever talked to a reporter; he seems to have a knack for finding himself in the middle of Oklahoma
tragedies. In September 2005, he was serving as general manager of a family business, Ellison Feed and Seed, when a young man came in and asked to purchase
ammonium nitrate, a high-nitrogen fertilizer that had been used in explosives ten years earlier in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. .