Louisiana tornado propels mother, baby into the air
Amanda Stockfelt gripped her 8-week old daughter, Autumn, tightly as they were tossed into the air and sucked into the vortex of a passing tornado.
Stockfelt, who works at an impound lot near NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility, usually never brings her daughter to work, but Tuesday little Autumn had a doctor's appointment so Stockfelt brought her and planned to take a half-day before the doctor's visit.
It was a typical morning until Stockfelt heard the tell-tale sound of an incoming tornado.
"I heard the sound of a freight train and I was holding her. All I could think of was putting her back in her car seat. So I put her in the car seat, buckled her up, and put her underneath my work desk. I crawled underneath there with her and locked my arm around the handle of her car seat," Stockfelt said.
Within moments, as Stockfelt huddled under her desk with her daughter and another co-worker, her worst fear unfolded with unyielding fury.
"We heard the trailer coming apart and then we flipped over backwards and then it's like the trailer exploded and me and the baby went flying through the air and I saw the sky, the inside of the vortex, I saw her and her car seat above my head and then we hit the ground," Stockfelt said.
Stockfelt only had one thing on her mind as she tumbled through the air.
"Don't let go, just don't let go, that's all I could think about was don't let go. I couldn't think of anything else because I knew if I let go I wouldn't be able to find her and I didn't know if she was dead, I didn't know if she was home, I didn't care about me, I didn't even feel my injuries until hours later. I was just worried about her, that's it," Stockfelt said.
She credits the car seat she strapped Autumn in to with saving her child's life.
"I have to say shout out to Graco. Graco makes the best car seats in the world because without her being in that car seat, I don't know what would've happened to her," Stockfelt said.
Now as she takes stock of the place where she works, nearly annihilated, she can breathe easy knowing her little Autumn still has her smile, something she'll never let go.
"It's just inconceivable. I couldn't imagine, I mean, I'm thinking my job's gone, the only car we had is gone, but she was OK, I was OK, and everything else can be replaced," Stockfelt said.