MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — Shelter from intense weather is about timing and location. A local tennis team on its way back from competition on May 12 eventually found both in their favor in a unique way.
“I was just scared. I’d never experienced anything like it before. It was very scary,” Madison boys tennis player Mason Kennington said.
The Madison boys tennis team’s return from Watertown collided with heavy weather.
“We kind of thought we had enough time. We got out of Watertown early which was nice, and so we figured we’d make it and maybe have to stay in the school with the kids. My wife had called me and said that they were going down to the basement and that we should get off the road,” he said.
This was the view out of the bus windshield on Highway 81 north of Madison.
“We just looked up at the sky and we saw kind of a big black line pretty high up in the sky and thought, ‘well, that kind of looks different.’ And then a little while later, we saw it coming on the ground and it was just this big wall of black cloud. That’s when kind of knew that this wasn’t a normal storm that we were driving into,” Bundy said.
Matt Phelps was planting near his parent’s farm and saw the storm rolling in. He was running into their house when he saw the bus on the highway.
“I waved them on and went to the house, and I opened up the doors, the basement door, flipped the lights, pointed where it was, and by that time they were at the end of the sidewalk. They all started heading down into the basement,” Phelps said.
As the storm was approaching, the bus came down the driveway. They were in the basement for less than two minutes before it hit. The timing was perfect.
“We were going to stop for dinner before and our coach decided not to stop for dinner, and I’m happy he did that because we would have been a lot farther out and it could have been a lot worse,” Kennington said.
Marv Rhode, who has been driving buses for more than 35 years, was behind the wheel.
“I was watching the road ditches to see if there was any deep ones that we could probably get into. Get off the bus, get in the ditch, and lay down,” he said.
Right place, right time and first time for him.
“This is the first time this has ever happened to me in all the years I’ve been driving. I feel great that everybody is okay,” Rhode said.
There were 19 players on the bus along with the coach as well as the bus driver. Another passerby took shelter in the basement, too.
Phelps said the weather station near the farm clocked the wind at 111 miles per hour.