Company Gives OK Veteran Wheelchair-Accessible Storm Shelter

Wednesday, April 16th 2014, 10:50 pm
By: News 9

He survived 13 months in Afghanistan only to be paralyzed during the May 20 tornado.

Sgt. E.H. Pittman tried to save eight people inside a Moore convenience store. With another storm season here, an Oklahoma storm shelter company is making sure he and his family are safe.

The people over at Flat Safe Tornado Shelters heard Pittman's story and designed a shelter specifically outfitted for him and his family.

"My wife doesn't have to panic, and I'll probably stay down there for the next month," said Pittman.

The 30-year-old military sergeant, a father of two, watches as crews install a shelter in his garage Monday morning, but Wednesday was the first time he had a chance to try it out.

"It puts everybody at ease," said Pittman.

"We went back to the drawing board and developed something that we really hope helps him and his family feel safe and secure throughout this severe weather season," said Lisa Ingram, FlatSafe Tornado Shelters.  

"I come and, I just never thought something like this would happen," said Pittman.

Pittman had just arrived to work and says it seemed like a couple of minutes before tornado sirens began to go off.

The 7-11 that once stood on the corner of 4th and Telephone Rd. was leveled by the tornado. Pittman and eight others, including an infant were inside a bathroom as the storm passed.

"You could hear the noise and then the pressure change, and I remember the roof started coming off," said Pittman.

Pittman shielded a mother, her child and one of his employees.

"I grabbed onto Bree and Megan, and just held onto them as tight as I could," said Pittman. "I threw about this half of my body over Megan to try and hold them down."

He would later learn they didn't survive.

"My wife had told me, Megan and her baby hadn't made it. I just feel like I had failed at what I was trying to do," said Pittman.

Pittman believes what he did was far from heroic.

"I just did what I hope somebody else would have done if it was my family there," said Pittman.

One other person died in the store. Pittman suffered a spinal cord injury. He was recently honored by the state legislature with the Oklahoma Star of Valor during a joint session along with members of the Oklahoma National Guard.