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Off-Duty Officer Called Hero For Efforts During Tornado

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - An officer with the Dallas Police Department is being called a hero after getting dozens of people out of harm’s way during Tuesday’s storms.

Everything happened about the time police officers were hearing that a tornado had touched down off of Ovilla Road and that a storm was headed that way.

Officer Anthony Quintanilla was off-duty and working security at the Flying J Truck Stop, at Interstate-20 and Bonnie View.

At first the officer, truck stop employees and customers all watched what appeared to be an approaching funnel cloud, then Quintanilla quickly began herding people inside the building, just when tractor trailers began flying.

Ovilla got on the radio and tried to relay the situation. He can be heard saying, “It’s just east of uh… oh my God!” The transmission ended with that.

Quintanilla began hurrying people to take cover. Along the way the officer said he had to deal with people who are actually stopped so they could shoot video and take pictures with their cell phones.

“Did have put, ya know, use some sort of self-hand control to [relay], ‘Hey Bud it’s time to get inside. Stop taking pictures. This is life and death,’” he said.

Officer Quintanilla was able to get everyone inside a commercial refrigerator at the Flying J.  He stayed outside until the last moment.

“And that’s when I saw the tornado actually hit I think it was Snyder Truck Depot,” he remembered. “And that’s when I saw those trailer being tossed up in the air.”

The nearly 100 people with Quintanilla survived the tornado and no one was injured.

When the dust cleared, officials realized the tornado hit about 150 yards west of the building, but the strewn semis were proof that flying debris could have hurt or killed scores of people.

Quintanilla said he still can hardly believe what happened. “I was in shock. I’ve never seen… I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, experienced a lot of things, and I’ve never seen anything like that. A 53-foot trailer being tossed hundreds of feet in the air.”

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