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Dozens survive tornado by taking shelter in gas station – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

As the threat approached the Shell gas station in Valley View in the dark, drivers abandoned their cars and ran into the supermarket and restaurants just before it was hit directly.

“The walls were falling down,” recalls Hugo Parra of Farmers Branch. “The wind was trying to get us.”

They heard the roaring wind, felt a banging in their ears and the building beginning to give way.

“Windows were broken. The lights went out,” said Ana Parra, who was there with her father, mother, husband and siblings. “We were very scared in there.”

Hugo Parra talks to NBC 5/Telemundo 39 on Sunday, May 26, 2024, about protecting his family from a tornado.

The family was on their way to an Oklahoma casino on Interstate 35 when they received a call telling them to seek shelter.

“Inside, people were taking people to the chairs and tables in the restaurant,” said Hugo Parra. “I told everyone: No! Let's go to the bathroom!”

He herded strangers and his family, including pregnant Ana, to the bathrooms. Parra estimates that 50 to 60 people were in the bathroom when the tornado struck.

“My wife asked me, 'Are you scared?'” he said. “I said, 'No.' I don't know why, but I felt like I had to protect everyone. That's what I feel in my heart.”

Storm damage in Valley View, Texas, May 26, 2024.

This selfless act also happened to Kenneth Bolden Sr. He crouched in one bathroom with his 23-year-old son Kenneth Jr. while his mother curled up under a sink in the other bathroom.

“My son was on top of me,” he said. “I was just on my knees.”

Kenneth Jr. said he wanted to protect his father from harm at all costs.

“I can take a hit for my family,” he said. “If I live, I'll take a hit for my family. I'm younger. I feel like my body will heal faster. If not, then it gets to live.”

Mom, dad and son came out alive.