Text message alerts CrossFitters to seek shelter as tornado tears through Jacksonville

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    Text message alerts CrossFitters to seek shelter as tornado tears through Jacksonville

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    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Around the time an EF1 tornado swept through Jacksonville’s San Jose area during Tropical Storm Elsa, a group of CrossFitters would have been jogging during their afternoon class, but they said a single text may have saved their lives.

    Dicarlo Thompson, who works out at the CrossFit Total Control West on Bowdendale Avenue every day, and about 20 others had just started their 4:30 p.m. class on Wednesday when the weather went south.

    “I was mostly warming up,” Thompson said. “I just really started putting weight on the bar and the lights flickered.”

    Elsa brought wind and rain to the area, but Thompson didn’t expect the storm to bring a tornado as well. The CrossFitters didn’t know they were in the tornado’s path until CrossFit coach Jordan Tolbert got a text message from his wife. It shows a photo of News4Jax Chief Meteorologist John Gaughan and says, “Tornado is close to Phillips (sic) and Bowden.”


    “I had actually gotten a text that the storm was only a quarter-mile away,” Tolbert recounted. “So I went outside to kind of see what was going on, and as soon as we got outside, we saw all the shrapnel up in the air.”

    “They rushed to get the garage doors closed,” Thompson said. “I think we were looking outside and seeing the tornado coming down the road and then they yelled, ‘Everybody get in the office.’”

    Everyone ran to the back office for shelter. Meanwhile, down the street, surveillance video from 4:47 p.m. shows…

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