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Kentucky couple narrowly escaped New Year's day tornado

Hopkinsville tornado survivors share harrowing account
Posted at 6:59 AM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 14:04:59-05

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — As dusk fell over Hopkinsville on Sunday evening, not even the gentle sound of church bells or a dusting of snow could hide the destruction that took place just a day before.

On Saturday morning, Mark and Shari Jones were fueling up at the Marathon gas station on East 9th St. when they got the shock of a lifetime.

"So, I come up to go around the pump here to talk to her and then I, just out of the corner of my eye, see something," Mark Jones said.

That "something" was an EF2 tornado barreling straight at them.

"However fast old people can run over there is how fast we ran," Shari Jones said.

The Joneses said it took just seconds for the tornado to reach where they had been standing. A gas pump was ripped from the ground and fell where Shari Jones was fueling up just moments before. The entire canopy of the gas station also came crashing to the ground.

An AutoZone store next door was the couple's shelter.

"So we ran over here, and I just said, 'We gotta get down, we gotta get down,'" Mark Jones said.

Marathon gas station in Hopkinsville
Shari and Mark Jones were pumping gas at the Marathon gas station on East 9th Street in Hopkinsville when a tornado came straight towards them.

They laid on the ground against the brick facade of the building, to the side of the tornado's path. Shari Jones said her husband was nearby to protect her from getting hit with debris.

In just a minute, the tornado destroyed several businesses, took down power lines and forever left an impact.

"It was the only time ever in my life, probably hers too, that you really wonder — I ever wondered — if I was going to make it. I mean, I wasn't sure," Mark Jones said.

It was a scary way to start 2022, but the Joneses are counting their blessings.

"Somebody said, 'It was New Year's day, what bad luck.' Well, not from our perspective. We get new vehicles," Mark Jones said.

"Very fortunate," his wife added.

AutoZone in Hopkinsville
Shari and Mark Jones point to a spot on the ground outside AutoZone where they took shelter out in the open as a tornado barreled past them.

This story was originally published by Olivia Michael on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.