Longview woman says husband’s truck saved him from downburst

The first tree fell along the driver’s side, pinning Ryan Woodruff in. A second tree followed, crushing the cab.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 1:55 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - A man was pinned in a truck by fallen trees during Longview’s downburst storm on Friday. His wife explains how he narrowly escaped being crushed.

Ryan Woodruff was fixing a window at his home in Longview when Friday’s storm with downburst winds swept in.

“Rain started coming real fast and then there was just a solid wall,” said his wife, Lacy Woodruff.

“I come running through the house. I knew my husband was outside, trying to fix the window, get the window up. Had no idea, of course, what was really coming. When I was halfway through the house, heard him screaming. Had no idea what happened. I opened up the door, and nothing but trees, trees. I could barely see the truck; I had no idea he was in the truck. I thought he was on the ground underneath the trees,” Lacy explained.

According to Lacy, Ryan jumped in the truck when the storm started, and as soon as he shut the door, the first tree fell along the driver’s side, pinning him in. A second tree followed, crushing the cab.

“It was instantaneous after he shut that door; he had no idea what really hit him,” Lacy said.

Meanwhile, she describes standing in water, in the downpour, knowing power lines were down around her. On Friday, there was so much tree debris on the truck it wasn’t clear how dramatic the damage was or how little space Ryan had within while he waited for emergency services.

SWEPCO cut the power and firefighters sawed their way through the tree according to LFD Training Chief Andy Parker.

“Once they made access to the truck, made contact with the patient. And then they used the extrication tools; used a ram to push the roof of the cab up off of him and brought him out the window of the truck,” Parker said.

They had their first look at the actual truck today as trees were being removed.

The interior of the cab that was crushed by trees, after emergency responders used a hydraulic...
The interior of the cab that was crushed by trees, after emergency responders used a hydraulic jack to lift the roof.(KLTV/Jamey Boyum)

When help did arrive, Lacy said, they had to use “a hydraulic jack on the inside to lift the top of the cab up, so he could move. Then they just pulled him out the passenger’s side....There was no way of getting in the driver’s side at all.”

Today, First Baptist Church of Hallsville has been helping to clear the fallen trees.

“They just got to work, started cutting everything down to make a clear line of sight for our power line. We had gone 24 hours without power and couldn’t continue,” Lacy explained.

The vehicles that were hit in the storm, other than the Woodruffs’ truck, are banged up but drivable.

For Ryan and Lacy, it’s just a relief that Ryan made it out, with some minor injuries, but alive.

“He wouldn’t have made it if he was outside the truck,” Lacy said. “God will provide.”

A man was pinned in a truck by fallen trees during Longview’s downburst storm on Friday. His wife explains how he narrowly escaped being crushed.
RELATED:

+ Longview residents unsure of next steps amid storm recovery

+ National Weather Service identifies cause of Longview storm damage

+ Longview Fire rescues man from vehicle trapped by downed tree

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