In the minutes after a tornado touched down at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in western Iowa, parents in three states began a frantic search to find their Boy Scout sons.

Cathy White was watching television with her husband Joel in Blair, Neb., when they heard that tornadoes had touched down in Little Sioux, Iowa, where their son Thomas was at the camp.

"My husband, the first thing he wanted to do was just jump into our truck and get up there right away," Cathy White told FOX News. "So he went ahead and just did that."

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Parents from three states — Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota — drove up and down Interstate Highway 29 searching for their children, the Des Moines Register reported.

What these parents found were boys shaken by the experience.

"Considering I was out in the open completely exposed and in the valley and the tornado was coming in right behind me ... It was coming in right after me, and I was thinking I was going to die," Alex Robertson told FOX affiliate KPTM-TV. "And in fact if I hadn't dived in to that door I probably wouldn't be standing here right now."

On Wednesday night, a dirtied Robertson held a broken camera that he said contained what he thought would be his last words.

Four Scouts — three 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old — died in the tornado, which touched down on the 1,800-acre camp.

Taylor Willoughby, 13, of Bellevue, Neb., said several scouts were getting ready to watch a movie when someone screamed that there was a tornado. Everyone in the building hunkered down, he said, but windows were breaking.

Willoughby said he saw another scout with his head split open. "It was a pretty gruesome image," he said.

Willoughby was treated a Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa, for a bruised back. The injured were also taken to Alegent Health Clinic in Missouri Valley, and Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

At least 42 of the injured remained hospitalized Thursday morning, with everything from cuts and bruises to major head trauma, said Gene Meyer, Iowa's public safety commissioner. At least four of the injured had been airlifted from the camp, he said, refusing to elaborate on their conditions or identify the dead.

"All of the buildings are gone; most of the tents are gone; most of the trees are destroyed," Lloyd Roitstein, president of the Boy Scouts of Mid-America Council, told KPTM-TV. "You've got 1,800 acres of property that are destroyed right now."

Gayle Jessen of Fremont, Neb., told KPTM-TV that her son Zach, 19, a staff leader at the camp, called them to say he was being treated at a local hospital for a bruised arm.

"I'm so relieved my son is OK," Jessen told the station.

The lucky ones gave their support to those less fortunate.

"We're just heartsick about the other injured kids and the kids that lost their lives," Cathy White said, adding "there's many hurting families and they just need our prayers."

Click here for more from FOX affiliate KPTM-TV.

Click here for more from the Des Moines Register.

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FOX News' Kris Gutierrez, FOXNews.com's Sara Bonisteel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.