Former Marine jumps into action to rescue survivors of Gaylord tornado: ‘It happened so fast’

‘We see roofs gone, vehicles flipped over, powerlines down’

He said his training helped him stay calm.

GAYLORD, Mich. – The town of Gaylord is still cleaning up after a tornado devastated the area, killing two and injuring more than 40 others on Friday.

The National Weather Service has determined the tornado was an EF-3 with around 140 mph winds. Some people have severe to critical injuries. Witnesses report that victims were impaled by boards and others had limbs severed.

Former Marine Devin Conner had only returned home a few months ago. He said he thought his action-filled days were over.

“The vehicle is just behind that yellow pillar on the grass here,” Devin Conner said. “We look across the street and we see roofs gone, vehicles flipped over, powerlines down.”

He rushed people to safety in a gas station.

“Yeah, it happened so fast by the time that we knew what was going on it was over,” he said.

When the tornado had passed, Conner rushed back outside to help more people. He has EMT training and knew people would be hurt.

“Most of the people were in their vehicles with injuries and you just check on people,” he said.

He tended to about 20 people in the aftermath of the tornado. He said his training helped him stay calm.

“People are worked up, their vehicle just got overturned, you know, they had debris flying through their windshields and stuff like that. So you just need to be with them and have humanity and just talk to them,” he said.

Read: State issues guidance for cleanup after deadly EF-3 tornado devastates Gaylord

Community steps up to help survivors of deadly EF-3 tornado in Gaylord.

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.