Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Tornado-Chaser Catches One

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Tornado-Chaser Catches One

Article excerpt

For the last 25 years, J. Pat Carter has been chasing tornadoes, snapping pictures of their destructive power, but he has never come face to face with one. That all changed last Monday evening.

"I just got home from work, and I turned the TV on, and they were starting to talk about these massive storms. The office called, and the chase was on," says Carter, who lives near some of the most damaged areas around Oklahoma City.

Carter, 50, an Associated Press photographer for the last three years, was able to capture a picture of a mother and daughter huddled under a highway overpass as a tornado swirled nearby. The storm was approaching the Oklahoma City area from the southwest, along the H.E. Bailey Turnpike.

When he left the house that evening, Carter went out in search of the storm photos. He found what he was looking for and also became a hero of sorts in the process.

"I drove to within half a mile of the funnel, turned around, got out of my car and started shooting pictures, got back in the car. Stop, shoot, drive some more. I did this for every half mile or so and finally at this last bridge on the highway, I realized I had no place to go. The storm was going to catch me out in the open," says Carter.

As he approached the overpass, Carter says there was a woman struggling to free a child from a safety seat in her van.

"I yelled at her to get under the bridge. She starts yelling something about her kids. I reached in and grabbed one of them, and together we got the other one out," says Carter, a former staffer at The Sun in Baltimore. …

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