Four teens hold on to trees during tornado

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Monday, Jan. 24, 2017

BARNWELL COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Four teens walking a trail at Barnwell State Park were holding on for dear life after finding themselves in the path of a tornado.

Abbie Weeks, Nathan Sizemore, Matthew and Bill Frye were walking in the Barnwell State Park Saturday afternoon when an EF-2 tornado was approaching them.

They say the winds began to pick up and tree limbs began following.

Bill Frye says, "The wind was pushing us to our right so far -- that we just decided to stop running so we grabbed on to a tree."

Matthew Frye says the howling winds sounded just like a siren.

Abbie, Matthew and Bill locked arms and held on to the trunk of a tree.
Nathan was holding onto a nearby tree. He says, "I was thinking of how to survive -- and what to do really."

In the chaos Bill was hit by a tree. "Fortunately I was able to regain my balance -- if I had fallen down that tree would have crushed me."

When the winds began to slow down they saw headlights coming towards them. It was Matthew's and Bill's grandparents.

They ran towards the car and waited out the rest of the storm in there. More trees were knocked down and fell on the road.

So many trees were knocked down it was impassable. They got out of the car and began walking back to the cabin their families were staying in.

Abbie says she's glad they were able to walk from this and learned a lesson. "Trust in God and remain calm and think clearly -- and hide in a ditch instead of behind the tree."

They were trapped in the park for hours to the trees and power lines blocking roads, but their families were able to leave later that night with quite the story to tell.

They all say this experience definitely brought them closer together and it will be something they will never forget.