June 10 will mark the 60th anniversary of an event that should be etched forever in Isabelle Stephens' mind.
That she can't remember the tornado that sucked her out of the car she was riding in and threw her through a barbed wire fence is testimony to the ferocity of the twister that overtook her and her husband, Albert Ellsworth of Johnstown, that day in Butler County, Kansas, in 1958.
According to Stephens, 84, of Butler township, she and her new husband were driving through Kansas when the twister struck their car.
She said, “I never saw it. We had stopped at a rest stop off the exit we took on the way to see my Aunt Bertha. I don't remember getting back onto the highway.”
But she managed to piece the story together after she woke up in an El Dorado, Kansas, hospital three weeks later.
Stephens was sucked from the car and thrown through a barbed wire fence 500 feet away.
Unconscious and without identification, Stephens said it was by tracing their license plate through Harrisburg that the El Dorado hospital discovered their unconscious patient's name.
Her husband, who was also pulled from the car by the winds, wound up in a hospital 40 miles north in Wichita.
She wrote a memoir of her encounter with the “wrong-way tornado” entitled “A Life That Almost Wasn't” in 2009.
For the 60th anniversary, Stephens said, “I'm going to have a fellow come out and take a video of me to send out to Kansas to show them how good I turned out.”
Read more about Stephens' experience in the Butler Eagle.