Tornado victim found alive in body bag

DADE COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) – It's a story of survival unlike any we've ever told.

A year ago today, seven twisters ripped through DeKalb County, Alabama, shredding homes and killing more than 30 people.

Body bags and a makeshift morgue made it look like a war zone.

But for Dana Culpepper, a nurse, what happened that night is something she could have never imagined.

 "They were picking them up off the side of the road, miles from where they were actually killed," Culpepper tells Channel 3.


Miles from their last breaths, paramedics loaded bodies into ambulances for the drive to Dade Health and Rehabilitation Center.

"We closed off the fire doors and used this end as a morgue," Culpepper says.


In the midst of chaos, Dana Culpepper thought she heard a moan.

"I was not even going to look and I heard the moan again," she says.

It didn't take Culpepper long to find where that moan was coming from.

"When we undid the body bag we saw that she was alive," Culpepper says.


The woman in the bag, Glynis Lawson, had a broken hip; a hole in her back, and a dislocated shoulder. 

"Her nose was gone," Culpepper says. "Her ear was off, and I don't know how she was living."

"I'm just glad that they were there that night and heard me," Lawson says.


The last thing this miracle remembers is hiding in her closet.

"Just as I shut the door, that's when everything started," Lawson says. "The hitting, the roar, and the house started breaking apart."

First responders found Glynis in a ditch, near the road, beneath what was left of her home.


"I guess it was God," Culpepper says. "That's all I can say. He had a reason to keep her alive if she's here today."


Lawson has since rebuilt and surgeries have helped her heal.

She believes it was her ailing father that kept her alive.


"I guess that was God's way of keeping me here, to make sure daddy was okay," Lawson says.

Lawson's father was a patient at the rehab center she was taken to that night.

He was hiding in a safe room while she was placed in the makeshift morgue.

Lawson's dad passed away in December.

She returns to the center every week to visit the people who saved her. And when there is severe weather, she drives three miles from her home to the center to take cover.