Video sheds new light on deadly Fairdale, Illinois tornado

FAIRDALE, Ill. (WLS) -- There's video of the deadly tornado that devastated Fairdale, Ill., that is shedding new light on the disaster. It was shot by a man who lost his wife in the twister.

PHOTOS: 2015 Illinois tornado damage

Clem Schultz was convinced the tornado was going to miss his home, but in a flash, it appeared to change course and head right towards him. He saw it all in his camera's view finder.

"We saw the tornado coming over that horizon," Schultz said.

It was an EF-4 twister with winds clocked at nearly 200 miles an hour. The raging monster was still off in the distance when Clem Schultz grabbed his camera.

"I was totally convinced it was going to go to the west. It was going to miss us. So I figured I'm safe up here on this second floor taking a video of it," Schultz said.
"It changed its mind, I guess, and came right at me. I don't know. I wasn't scared. I think survival set in."

The twister had decimated Schultz's home and several others. As he awoke beneath a mountain of debris, he thought of his wife, Geri, who'd been downstairs. He managed to crawl to safety to a first responder.

"He said don't look down, and I said, 'Why don't look down?' He says, 'Because your wife is under that beam, and she's dead,'" Schultz said.

Almost a year later, Schultz is still reconciling his loss. His dog Missy, who'd been missing after the storm, is now by his side. And the video of that dark day is now a source of light: it's being studied by tornado researchers.

"The guy upstairs says, 'You got to that share that.' I figure that's that the reason I'm alive," Schultz said.

Schultz suffered a broken vertebrae in the storm but surgery was successful. He says he doesn't plan to live in Fairdale again, but he will attend a memorial dedication on the one year anniversary of the twister this Saturday.

Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.