Wayne Tornado Victim Escapes Death, Relives Memories


It's been four months since a powerful tornado ripped through the City of Wayne, destroying everything in its path. John Dunning, a Wayne State College faculty member, is speaking out for the first time about the painful day that almost ended his life.

"I drove right into a tornado and never saw it coming," said Dunning.

The Wayne State College Chief Information Officer spent 12 days in a coma, 3 weeks in an Intensive Care Unit, and months in rehab. At a press conference Tuesday morning, Dunning relived the painful day.

"It's been, at times, incredibly dark, at times phenomenally beautiful, and at this point it has left me a changed person," Dunning said.

To a room full of Wayne State students and staff, Dunning described what he remembers from that fateful early October day. Dunning and a colleague were on their way home from a business trip to Chicago when they crossed the tornado's path.

"We knew we were in trouble when we saw pieces of building flying across the highway in front of us," said Dunning.

After driving the car into a ditch, Dunning says he took cover before getting hit by debris.

"I had a broken right scapula, a collapsed right lung, multiple broken ribs, a broken six cervical vertebrae, and a concussive skull fracture that drove part of my skull into my brain," he said.

And the list goes on. But Dunning says thanks to rehabilitation at Madonna Proactive in Lincoln, he was able to find hope.

"That is a miracle factory," Dunning said. "The folks at Madonna taught me that I could live it again and that was a phenomenal blessing."

Despite the injuries that almost ended his life, Dunning says the most painful part was driving back through Wayne for the first time.

"Home didn't really feel like home," Dunning said. "Things seemed kinda odd and displaced."

While it's been a long journey, he's happy to be back with a new perspective.

"Some things simply aren't worth worrying about, and people are pretty important," Dunning said.


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