Local man shares story of survival from deadly 1967 Belvidere to - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local man shares story of survival from deadly 1967 Belvidere tornado


Bob Ellison was an 8th grader at Belvidere Junior High on April 21, 1967. He was on a bus near Belvidere High School when the Belvidere tornado hit. 

"Those memories have stuck with me for life."

Bob says it first starting pouring, then baseball size hail pelted from the sky. 

"It broke the window out of the bus. I said to the bus driver I'm not staying in here. So I jumped up and opened the door.  He grabbed at me and I ripped away from him and a few other students and I, we got outside."

What Bob saw next, he says he could never have been prepared for. 

"The debris would hit them and they'd just go flying 10, 20, 30 feet from the force of the debris. The things I saw just to put it honestly was so gruesome."

 The nightmare continued.  He tried to run with the storm, but it caught up to him.

"All of a sudden I heard a roar behind me and I turned around and looked over my back and as I did there came bus right on my heels.  And bang it hit me."

Bob says he lay unconscious under the bus. Left for dead until a nurse found him.  He was in a coma for three days and woke up to serious injuries. 

"I ended up having two hundred some stitches in my head a broken pelvis, broken ribs, and numerous and cuts and abrasions."

In total, it was a two year recovery for Bob.  All these years later, he says he believes there was a higher power watching over him. 

"God was good to me. I should never have lived."

Eight students who stayed in the bus Bob was in, died in the storm.  

Powered by Frankly