tornado tossed truck
(Photo/Brian Emfinger Twitter)

Viral Truck in Tornado Video Sparks Chevrolet to Give Away a New Silverado

A Texas teen had his Chevy Silverado tossed around like a tin can last week by an EF-2 tornado. Not only was his luck strong enough to drive away from the horrific event, but a nearby storm chaser also captured it on video.

The result is two things: The teen has a video to back up a story nobody would believe, and the event got enough attention that he’s getting a replacement truck — a brand new Chevrolet Silverado.

Riley Leon is a 16-year old who was driving down U.S. 290 near Elgin, Texas, a town about 40 miles northeast of Austin. He was heading home from a job interview at Whataburger when the storms hit.

“I didn’t feel it; I didn’t see it,” Leon told KVUE News. “Supposedly, there were sirens going on, but I didn’t hear it.”

Brian Emfinger is a storm chaser and videojournalist from Arkansas who was traveling in the opposite direction on 290. On March 22, Emfinger posted a video of the incident on Twitter.

The Amazing Video

“OMG … just going through my video. This is a story about a red truck and a tornado. I cannot believe they drove away like that,” read the post.

In the video, Leon’s red Silverado gets picked up by the twister and then spun around multiple times on its side. Somehow, the early 2000s pickup ends up back on all four wheels.

Like a rock, Leon drove the pickup away and kept going, making it to somewhere just a little bit safer from the storm to find out exactly what happened.

Of course, the pickup was far from unscathed. Leon said that the truck was dented and scratched and glass shattered. With the storm producing 130 mph winds, it’s impressive that the truck was able to run after the tossing. It’s even more amazing that debris didn’t seriously injure Leon.

The Happy Ending

Fortunately, Leon suffered only minor cuts, he told reporters, but he got an astounding story from the ordeal.

“When I landed on my wheels, my hands landed on my lap, and I saw everything, and I was like probably nothing happened,” said Leon.

After realizing the damage to the vehicle, Leon said, “It broke me down seeing my hard work is gone. It is family-owned, but my dad passed it to me, but I paid him off.”

After the video got around, Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet in Fort Worth, Texas, contacted Leon. Along with Chevrolet corporate, the dealership offered to give Riley Leon a 2022 Chevrolet Silverado LT, also in red.

The Replacement Pickup

KVUE reporter Daranesha Herron posted a video of Leon taking delivery of the new truck to Twitter. Arriving wearing an appropriately sized Texas hat and belt buckle, Leon received the new pickup — plus, a giant check for $15,000 for him and his family.

“You have to keep pushing through them, and hopefully, better things come,” said Leon. “Thankful to God for giving me another chance in this life.”

Chevrolet also announced it would be contributing $50,000 to the Red Cross toward disaster relief in Texas following the devastating chain of tornadoes that landed that day.

Oh, and about the job interview? Riley Leon said that he got the job.

Evan Williams
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Evan Williams has been drooling over cars since the time he learned to walk. He went to school for engineering, but transitioned into a more satisfying career in automotive and outdoor media, and has been at it for nearly a decade now. Evan is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and is the Motors News Lead at GearJunkie. He spends his non-automotive time walking his dog, hiking, cycling, jogging, and trying not to be too much of a hack mechanic.