When Riley Leon of Texas set out for a job interview at a local fast food restaurant on March 21, his mother warned him against it.
The weather was ready to turn at any moment, and there were all sorts of dangerous weather warnings, including the chance of thunderstorms, large hail and tornadoes.
Leon, 16, made it to the interview and was headed home when his mother’s warning became reality. He was driving through Elgin when a tornado crossed directly into his path and picked up his red Chevy Silverado before he could pull an about-face.
An oncoming driver who narrowly missed the twister themselves caught the whole thing on video as the truck was spun onto its side for a few seconds before being picked up again and set upright on its wheels.
“On the video, it looks like I drove off, but in reality I didn’t,” he told KXAS-TV. “I landed in the center of the road, and I was just driving to get off the road.”
The teen carefully eased his way out again and drove the rest of the way home, more than just a little shaken up. He’d only suffered minor scratches from the ordeal and didn’t tell his family what had happened because he didn’t want to worry them.
But the video that passer-by took went viral, and people began half-joking that it needed to be the next Chevy commercial.
When his parents saw the video, they knew immediately it was of their son.
People were surprised to learn that the driver of the truck was not an adult, as many had assumed, but a 16-year-old.
“I give thanks to God that he protected him all this time,” his mother said, according to an interview with Fox News.
Leon was hoping the video would seal the deal after the job interview, and according to KXAS-TV, he did land the job — but he’s gotten so much more.
Not only has the video of the incident gone viral, Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet of Fort Worth, Texas, decided to recognize the young man’s grit with a brand-new truck and a check for $15,000.
“Chevrolet, together with Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet of Fort Worth, TX, are donating a 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT All Star Edition in Cherry Red to Riley Leon and his family after he survived a powerful tornado while driving in his Silverado,” the business shared on its Facebook page.
“We are thankful Riley is safe, commend his driving skills during a frightening situation, and our hearts are with other families in Texas that have been affected by these storms.
“To help aid the recovery efforts in Texas, Chevy Cares is donating $50,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Due to the quick action of the team at Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet, the new truck will be presented to Riley and his family on Saturday, March 26, at the dealership.”
Riley is just thankful he came through the ordeal alive and said that next time he’d heed his mother’s warning and not go out in such bad weather.