Butler County Times Gazette
  • Stephens recalls experiences of 1958 tornado

  • Isabelle Stephens continues to share her story of surviving the tornado
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  • One survivor, Isabelle Stephens, who lives in Pennsylvania, continues to share her story of surviving the tornado on June 10, 1958.
    “I was unidentified, blown out of my car through a wire fence, wind was blowing 140 miles per hour and hail the size of a baseball,” she said. “The only thing left on me was my shoes and watch.”
    She said she lost everything else and they never found the car.
    For three days, Stephens was left in a temporary morgue and the doctors had given up on her for dead.
    “There was a nurse standing by me and she said, ‘Wait I want to try one more thing.’ She put a mirror under my nose – enough steam appeared and her voice stated ‘She is living’,” she said.
    “I would have liked to have met this person but I’ll just refer to her as my Guardian Angel.”
    After a long struggle with a bad concussion, head cut open and bad sprains, she had to learn to talk, eat and walk again.
    “My nerves were very bad,” she said. “Doctors told my mother I was never expected to walk, work or drive a car.”
    She spent 198 days in the hospital, 50 days in El Dorado and 148 days in her home town, Johnstown.
    On Feb. 14, she walked out the hospital to go home and started back at her regular job as a cashier for G.MA.C. on April 1, 1959.
    “Through the God Almighty’s healing hand, He touched the doctors, nurses, therapist and chiropractors,” she said, adding there were prayers from everybody near and far.
    “At the time of the tornado, I was 24 years old,” she said. “As of May 21, I celebrated my big 80th birthday.”
    She still has her own home in Butler, Pa., enjoys making her angle food cakes, mows her own lawn, her yard is full of flowers and she has a small garden. She said she is in wonderful health.
    Stephens has visited El Dorado many times, including for the 50th anniversary of the tornado, as well as in 2009 when she presented her book she wrote, “A Day That Almost Wasn’t.”
    “A special thank you for all my new friends that I got to know through this,” she said.
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