Former News 9 Reporter Reflects On Interviewing May 3rd Tornado Victim
OKLAHOMA CITY - Kathalene Walton, 40, is one of the 44 victims killed in the May 3, 1999 tornado. She was protecting her son underneath an overpass when she was swept away by winds from the F-5 tornado.
Former News 9 reporter Julie Dyson talked to Kathalene’s 11-year-old son days after in 1999, and recently revisited the overpass after 20 years.
Levi Walton, 11, was wedged underneath the Northwest 16th Street overpass on the HE Bailey Turnpike.
“This has haunted me the whole last 20 years,” said Dyson. “It’s the most unforgettable story I’ve ever done as a news reporter.”
Scars still remain on this bridge.
Kathalene’s name in spray paint, and Levi’s name etched in what appears to be mud, are still visible at the scene.
“I can't imagine what was going through her mind. She had spent her whole life protecting Levi and in the last seconds of her life, she did exactly what she had always done, which was to protect her son,” said Dyson. “That’s what mothers do. They protect their sons, they protect their children and she did, he lived.”
Many neighborhoods were also wiped out that evening. Dyson remembers at one point, survivors finding humor by writing messages on damage with spray paint.
“I think they were thumbing their noses at the tragedy,” said Dyson. “People in Oklahoma just are just not knocked down very easily, (they are) very resilient people.
Memories once of destruction are now filled with peace. The Oklahoma standard on clear display.
“They volunteered, they worked together, they didn't sit and cry about it very long, they just did it,” said Dyson. “They rebuilt everything and moved on with their lives. It’s inspiring.”