Evan Capper: gridiron guardian - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Evan Capper: gridiron guardian

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by Sunny Layne

PARKERSBURG (KWWL) -- None of us will forget the chilling images of last May's tornado.

But few of us have first-hand memories of living through the middle of it.

One Parkersburg man did, and he saved several lives in the process. Evan Capper is someone you should know.

"I was standing right here," Evan Capper said, standing in an empty lot.

Nearly a year later, Capper remembers every detail.

"We looked west and saw a gray wall coming at us and realized that was the tornado."

May 25th, 2008 found Capper's family grilling outside for a friend's graduation party.

No one expected an EF-5 tornado, the most destructive of its kind, to hit.

"This is where the car wash was. See this little square? That's where everyone was standing," he said.

Realizing the tornado would soon hit, 14 people gathered in a nearby small carwash building.

"I actually got to look up in it," he said. "The way I landed my head was stuck out the hole. I could see 10 feet in front of me and every once in a while I saw a gray blur going flying by me. It was really intense in there and scary."

The strength of this former Parkersburg High School football player and current University of South Dakota player served a crucial role.

"This is the wall that ended up falling on top of me," he said.

Capper held up a wall that would've crushed his little brother and several others.

"It changes the way you look at everything. Just your perspective on life itself."

Capper's father Dale last year called Evan a true life-saver.

"He saved my son and a girl and niece and nephew from getting crushed," Dale said. "We're very lucky. We should've all been dead."

"The way we were and the way we ended up, it probably should've never ended that way," Evan said.

Even though the storm is past, Capper says it brought a lesson that will stay with him the rest of his life.

"I learned that life can end very abruptly," he said. "That it shouldn't be taken for granted. Your life can change in a heartbeat."

This May 25th, the Cappers plan on attending a memorial ceremony with the people of Parkersburg.

Reporter: Sunny Layne

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