OMAHA, Neb. -- Arnell Petrzilka lost her son Ben 10 years ago. Ben was on a camping outing with other Boy Scouts just west of Little Sioux, Iowa in 2008 when an EF-3 tornado hit their camp. Ben was one of four children who lost their lives that night. Forty-eight others were injured.
“But it was just a tornado in the middle of a bad storm in the middle of nowhere and you couldn't control that. It just happened and you can't be angry at anyone for that,” Arnell said.
Since then, she says the four families have bonded.
“Everybody grew through that. I hope I'm a better person. We say that all the time. I think all four families say that. If our children knew us now, I think they'd be proud of us,” Arnell told 6 News. “Remembering that night is hard. You remember before…your child and you remember after without your child but that actual night when your child is taken away…you don't go back there very often.”
Arnell recalls how the families were cared for. She said, “Everybody kind of stopped. Like our world stopped because you're like 'how is the sun possibly shining? When our boys aren't here.' But everybody kind of stopped with us. If we look back, we can see where God kind of put everybody in the right places. We leaned on a lot of people and they were there to lean on.”
Arnell still believes in Scouts. Ben's younger brother, now 15, is in Boy Scouts. She says scouting saved lives that terrible night.
"We've never thought anybody was to blame. There's nobody. Everybody was prepared. As a matter of fact, I think more boys survived because they were Boy Scouts and they knew what to do,” she said.
Arnell says the families appreciate the support from the community all these years. And that it's a good idea to hold our children a little closer – while we can.
“They're gone in a blink so people should enjoy them every day,” she said.
Arnell says many Scout camps around the area have improved facilities for tornado safety.