Doctors say helmets, car seats saved lives in tornado - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Doctors say helmets, car seats saved lives in tornado

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Doctors say helmets and infant car seats saved lives in homes that were destroyed in last year's Alabama tornadoes.

Nine-year-old Noah Stewart suffered only scratches when a tornado blew apart his home and hurled him half a football field away last year.

Seven-week-old Tucker had no injuries at all, but his mother sitting next to him was crushed to death.

Doctors say what they have learned from children like Noah and Tucker in the terrible tornado outbreak in Alabama last April 27 may help save lives in future tornadoes.

"We thought this was really interesting because other people in the house were injured or seriously injured," said Dr. Mark Baker of Children's Hospital of Alabama.

Noah's dad had just come home in Pleasant Grove, Ala. when the sirens sounded.

Noah's mother Lisa had ordered him to put on his baseball helmet, which she'd never done before. His dad, Jonathan, had been shooting video of the storm, but joined his family in the bathroom.

'In an instant, we were sucked out of the house," said Jonathan Stewart.

Lisa would later say that when she last saw Noah, he was spinning head over heels as high as the telephone pole outside their home.

"I tried to... I don't know how to say this...I tried to grip onto a branch, but it just broke," said Noah.

Noah landed next to this stump. He was on his belly and elbows as if he had been reading a book. The helmet was gone. But Noah was alive, and relatively uninjured.

"It's pretty convincing that the helmet may have saved his life or certainly prevented him from having a serious head injury," said Baker.

It was an EF-4 tornado that hit Pleasant Grove, Alabama with winds of more than 200 miles an hour. It came out of the southwest. It not only blew the Stewart's house across the road, but blew their possessions, their photographs and papers all the way to Rome, Ga. – 130 miles away!

That same tornado hit Tucker's Pleasant Grove neighborhood. A cement block wall toppled over onto the family, burying them. Tucker's father, Josh, was bloody but lived. The baby's mother, Carrie, did not.

The fact that tucker was in an infant car seat might have saved him. It can't be proved that safety devices made a difference, but Barker believes it just makes sense, even for his family. Barker says he recommends helmets for older kids, infant car seats for babies.

"If it looks like its coming near our neighborhood, we put on our helmets and go into our safe place and take cover," said Baker.

More than 60 tornadoes hit that day throughout Alabama, killing more than 250 people and injuring thousands of others.

On the tornado's one-year anniversary, families continued to rebuild their homes and their lives

Josh Lowe recently celebrated his son's first birthday.

The Stewarts are still staying with relatives, but thinking of buying a new home. They said they are missing what the storm took, but cherishing what it spared.

While doctors recommend infant car seats, they say there is no evidence to support the use of safety seats for older children.

The infant seats are those that disconnect and can be used as carriers for babies.

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