It formed out on the prairie west of Oklahoma City, giving residents plenty of advance notice. When told to seek shelter, many ventured out and snarled traffic across the metro area — perhaps remembering the devastation in Moore.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said roadways quickly became congested with the convergence of rush-hour traffic and fleeing residents.
“They had no place to go, and that’s always a bad thing. They were essentially targets just waiting for a tornado to touch down,” Randolph said. “I’m not sure why people do that sort of stuff, but it is very dangerous.”
Terri Black, a 51-year-old teacher’s assistant in Moore, said she decided to try and outrun the tornado when she learned her southwest Oklahoma City home was in harm’s way. She quickly regretted it.
“It was chaos. People were going southbound in the northbound lanes. Everybody was running for their lives,” she said.
When she realized she was a sitting duck, Black turned around and found herself directly in the path of the most violent part of the storm.
“My car was actually lifted off the road and then set back down,” Black said.
Friday night’s victims included a mother and a baby sucked out of their car as the EF3 hit near El Reno. A 4-year-old boy died after being swept into the Oklahoma River on the south side of Oklahoma City, said Oklahoma City police Lt. Jay Barnett. The boy and other family members had sought shelter in a drainage ditch.