Huntsville native Diane Reynolds was in her bedroom when a tornado bulldozed her home in Vilonia, leaving her pinned under what used to be a wall.
Family members said her roommate got her free within a few minutes, and with the help of a neighbor, rushed Reynolds to Conway Regional Medical Center.
Reynolds’ son O’Shay Stroud said the doctors told his mother she had four broken ribs, three cracked vertebrae and a bruised esophagus.
He said she was stable for a few hours until one of her lungs collapsed due to her broken ribs. He said from there she was transferred to a Little Rock hospital where she was recovering until being released Thursday afternoon.
Stroud said he got the call from an aunt that his mother was in the hospital. He said he immediately jumped in the car and drove the two hours to see her.
This wasn’t the first time his mother’s home has been hit in a tornado.
“They got hit three years ago,” Stroud said. “And the house wasn’t that damaged, so they stayed there this time figuring the same thing would happen, and this time there’s no house.”
He said three years ago, his mother lost the roof, a car port and a vehicle. He said this time she lost her home, one vehicle, one camper trailer, two four wheelers, two goats and one horse.
He said they were able to save a few valuables.
“We saved a lot of her photo albums and some of her collectibles, so it’s better than nothing. She also found three cats and their dog,” Stroud said.
Reynolds’ niece Kaela Hawkins said she went down to visit her aunt the morning after her house was destroyed.
“In the hospital room, she said we just don’t have anything, and I said just thank god that you’re alive, and she was very thankful because from looking at that, it didn’t look like anyone could have walked out of that house,” Hawkins said.
She said she saw one of her aunt’s four wheelers crushed a mile away from the rubble of the home.
Reynolds graduated from Huntsville High School in 1989. Friends said she worked for several years as an assistant manager at the local Walmart.
Classmate Marcia Hall said she has always been involved in the community, even serving on the Huntsville School Board from 1999 to 2003.
Classmates Stacey Grovey and Jarred Tackett said they heard of their friend’s devastation on Facebook and knew they wanted to help.
“If this happened to any one of us she would be the first person in line, doing exactly the same thing and giving and working hard, so we just want to do that for her,” Grovey said.
Tackett said in a graduating class of under 100 people, everyone supports each other, even 25 years after graduating.
“We’re still family. We grew up together, and we’re always going to be family,” Tackett said.
Tackett, Grovey and other classmates have established a GoFundMe account in Reynolds’ name to collect donations for their friend in need.
For those that want to donate, click on the link here.
For more information and updates on Diane Reynolds, classmates have also created a Facebook page. They said people can get updates on her health and how she is rebuilding her life.