Man recounts finding family thrown out of house after Bell County tornado

Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 7:52 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SALADO, Texas (KWTX) - A traumatic deal is how one man described finding an area family after this week’s Salado tornado.

Blake Miller said he was one of the first to come upon the Rios family on Tuesday, April 12. Their home was destroyed and all four members thrown from their home in different directions.

Their 7-year-old had the worst of the injuries, found in a tree; the mother miscarried; the father, badly injured; but their 1-year-old only had cuts and bruises.

“I’ll fight any bull any day, but I don’t care to go through that – Mother Nature, she don’t play, that’s for sure,” said Blake Miller, one of the first people to find the family.

He barely missed Tuesday’s tornado as he was driving through the rural part of Bell County. Though he thought he was in the clear, as he kept driving what he saw next was tough.

“Yeah, they were, they were in bad shape when I pulled up,” said Miller.

He described first seeing the father, Joel Rios, pinned under debris, using only his upper-body to try and get attention from anyone passing by.

“You could tell he used every last bit of his energy and strength that he had, he just tried to get help for his family,” said Miller. “I mean, that’s character.”

So when Miller got out of his truck to help, he said, Joel Rios pointed him in another direction, to his wife and daughter.

“That man was in piece and he was still fighting for his family,” said Miller.

That is when he found Miriam Rios, thrown into a tree, badly injured with a head gash.

After, he found her mother, Vanessa Rios.

“That was a very disturbing sight to see,” said Miller.

A few moments later, Miller said, he heard something else. It was 1-year-old Ezra Rios, stuck in warped tree limbs that formed a type of safety-dome around him.

By then, a few other people also arrived to help.

“I mean, I had to dig, probably three-feet into these trees and limbs that were everywhere,” said Miller. “The little baby was underneath all of it. Underneath the whole pile.”

After more than half-an-hour first-responders were finally able to make it through the family, who were all hospitalized.

After a bit of reflection, Miller said, it was divine intervention that put him on that path that night.

“I don’t think of myself as no hero or anything,” said Miller. “It’s something that the lord blessed me with, to help people, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Copyright 2022 KWTX. All rights reserved.