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Man survives possible tornado

Eight-year-old Robert Mason was sitting in his mobile home Thursday evening when a possible tornado overturned his home. When his overstuffed recliner turned over, he remained underneath and was unharmed.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

Eighty-one-year-old Robert Mason was sitting in his mobile home Thursday evening when a possible tornado overturned his home. When his overstuffed recliner turned over, he remained underneath and was unharmed.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


On Thursday evening, an 81-year-old Lumberton man survived what he believed to be a tornado, thanks in part to his overstuffed recliner.
Robert “R.J.” Mason is a Korean War veteran and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He has lived at 19 Sport Fish Lane for about 15 years.
At about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Mason was in his mobile home watching the movie “Tombstone” sitting in his reclining chair when all of a sudden the floors and walls started to shake.
“I heard the sound of a freight train,” Mason said. “I thought to myself ‘Holy smokes it’s a tornado.’”
Mason said he heard a crack, a bang and a boom and then everything in the mobile home went topsy-turvy.
“The overstuffed recliner saved my life,” Mason said. “The chair turned over so I stayed underneath. The whole event lasted about five seconds.”
After the incident, Mason began clenching his fists, flexing his back and wiggling his toes to ensure that nothing was broken. Although his legs were pinned underneath the chair, he suffered only a few cuts and bruises.
Mason began to push debris around in efforts to free himself and get out of the trailer. A portion of the mobile home was in a tree and he grabbed at tree branches to pull his way to safety.
He went to friend’s trailer nearby and called 911.
“I was amazed I came out of the home unhurt,” Mason said.
Mason’s trailer is located close to Slade’s Fish Hatchery.
“He has worked for me for about 20 years,” Hope Slade said. “He is a part of our family and we take care of him. I told him he’s got nine lives.”
Slade cited a previous incident where Mason was driving a truck carrying worms when the vehicle tipped over. Mason landed on the worms and that’s what saved his life.
“He always finds a soft spot to land,” Slade said. “He’s a survivor.”
Pearl River County Emergency Management Director and Fire Services Coordinator Danny Manley said the national weather service is investigating the incident. There is no information at this time to verify that it was a tornado or the F class.
Manley said that no matter if it was straight-line winds or a tornado, his mobile home was destroyed.