Families are still reeling after a tornado hit the Fallston area last Friday. While some managed to come out of the storm unscathed, others, such as Keith Matthews, weren't as lucky. Matthews suffered multiple injuries when a building collapsed on him.
Matthews was working at his auto detailing shop off Route 1 the afternoon of June 1 when, according to good friend Mike Ferro, he saw the tornado approaching.
"He pushed the window out of the shop," Ferro said, "and the walls started to collapse around the shop."
The building fell down on Matthews, trapping him under the rubble. Eventually, he was rescued and sent to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with injuries to his leg and shoulder.
"I got a phone call from a lady who lives across the street from the garage and said Keith's garage was hit by a tornado and was trapped under a wall," recalled Jackie Young, Matthews' fiancée. "I screamed and I cried and said I was on my way."
Young, who lives with Matthews in Forest Hill, said she drove to the shop as fast as she could, cutting through downed power lines and through business' properties, and arrived just as her fiancé was being put in the ambulance.
Matthews was put into a medically induced coma to fix his various injuries — a broken femur and a dislocated shoulder. Young said rods and screws were put into his leg, and there's now a scar right above Matthews' knee that reaches all the way to his hip.
Now, the healing begins.
On Thursday, Ferro said his friend is "doing all right," having moved to rehabilitation earlier in the week. Young said it'll be a few weeks until he's able to return home.
While everyone is incredibly grateful that they're visiting Matthews at the hospital and not planning his funeral, his loved ones are tackling the next hurdle — how will Matthews, who is without insurance, cover his medical expenses.
"That shop was his sole career right there," Ferro commented. "And it's totally destroyed."
Young, who visits and talks to Matthews on a regular basis, said she still hasn't figured out what the two are going to do.
"The hardest thing, honestly, for me is the fact that he is the one who put the roof over our head and now it's on me," she said.
And that's where the community has started banding together.
Ferro set up a PayPal account under his e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, to collect donations, which will go directly to Matthews.
Young and Ferro are also planning a few fundraising events at local establishments, though dates haven't been set yet.
Young, who knows employees at the Hickory Waffle House, hopes to have a fundraiser at the restaurant one night this month when a portion of the proceeds will go to Matthews. Ferro is planning something similar at Dark Horse Saloon in Bel Air.
So far, $600 has been collected.
A few days after the storm, Matthews told his fiancée what he could remember from that evening.
"All he had time to do was holler, 'Get back! Everybody back!'" to his two friends who were in the shop with him. "He said the twister pulled him up, too, but the wall came down before he could go too far up."
Young said being pulled a few feet into the air by the winds is the only reason he believes he didn't have his head crushed by the shop's walls and was alive.
"If it wouldn't have been for the suction up," she said, "I might be planning a funeral, and by the grace of God I'm not."