A Texas teen whose pickup was flipped and whipped around by a tornado Monday has gotten a new set of wheels and lots of support from online donors.
A video of the incident, which occurred Monday several miles east of Austin near Elgin, Texas, has gotten about 7 million views on Twitter after it was posted by storm chaser and photojournalist Brian Emfinger.
Since then, Riley Leon, 16, of Elgin, Texas, has been interviewed by local news outlets and has seen a GoFundMe campaign to pay for potential back injuries surpass $39,000.Â
The pickup Leon was driving Monday was flipped onto its side and spun. When it was upright again, Leon drove off.Â
“I cannot believe they drove away like that,” said Emfinger in a tweet sharing the video.Â
The incident happened as severalÂ tornadoes touched down MondayÂ night across Central Texas, causing major damage, injuries and at leastÂ one reported death.
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When the folks at Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet dealership in Fort Worth, Texas, learned Leon’s late-model Chevy pickup was “in pretty bad shape” after the incident, they decided to give him a new one,Â dealership vice president Randall Shapiro told USA TODAY.
In a video ceremony Saturday shown on Facebook, Leon and his family got the cherry red 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT All-Star Edition pickup, which typically costs $50,000. Chevrolet and the dealership will handle the cost of the pickup, Shapiro said. The dealership also gave Leon a check for $15,000.
That would help with “medical expenses and any other expenses that is going to come along with what went on,” Shapiro said.Â
It will also help Leon get to work at his new job. He was returning from a job interview at a local Whataburger when he encountered the tornado. During the ceremony, he said his first day of work is Monday.
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Earlier in the week, Leon watched the video of his truck being spun by the tornado and told TV station Fox 7 in Austin it was hard to believe that’s him inside the truck.
“I could have probably not been here. But thank God I am,” he said.
“His truck was totaled, but for the most part, he is doing ok. Unfortunately, he has begun to experience body aches and severe back pain, as one would expect after this type of accident,” said Bianca Jaimes, who works at the school Riley attends, said on the GoFundMe page.
She and the Leon’s familyÂ set up the page toÂ “help with medical expenses, as the family does not have any health insurance,” JaimesÂ said on the page.
Jaimes, a school nurse at IDEA Rundberg School in Austin, said Leon came to school Thursday, his first day back since the incident,Â but left early with back pain, sheÂ told Austin NBC TV station KXAN.
â€œHe said, â€˜My back has been hurting, it started hurting last night,’â€ Jaimes told KXAN.
Contributing: Richard Hall, Austin American-Statesman.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter:Â @mikesnider.