Boy Scouts Look Back at Survival in Tornado

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," June 12, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Zach Kahn and Hal Emas are two Boy Scouts who somehow managed to survive this deadly twister. Last night, with their own eyes, they watched the horror develop all around them. But this hell (ph) slammed this Boy Scout camp, there were good times. Check out these pictures taken of Zach and Hal on Sunday morning, the day they were dropped off at the Boy Scout camp. Days after this picture was taken, the camp is now destroyed. Dozens of people are injured, and worse, four Scouts are dead.

Joining us live from Omaha are Boy Scouts Zach Kahn and Hal Emas, and they are joined by their fathers, Rick Emas and Mark Kahn.

Welcome to all of you. And Hal and -- I just can't even imagine, you know, what you saw, you know, how terrible it must have been. Can you tell me in your own words what you remember?

ZACH KAHN, SURVIVED TORNADO: Well, I remember that I was yelling for my patrol mates, saying, Go to the troop shelter, something's coming, something's coming. And I yelled at the other patrol, too, because they were hiding under their tarp and I knew they would get hurt if they didn't go. I started hearing the sirens, so I told our Scoutmaster. And he listened and he said, Everybody inside. And then we were inside and we were going to watch a movie, and then, bam, the lights went off. And our Scoutmaster said, Get under the tables.

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And the next thing we knew, bam, the whole thing hits. Some guy was trying to shut the door and the door just tore off its lintens (ph) and the guy got sucked out. And we were all under our tables, and we all just flew around. Mainly what I saw was -- I accidentally looked up into the tornado, and all I could see was nothing but twigs, trees and branches, and cinderblocks, debris, everything flying around. And then I just stopped looking, and it went away and we started getting all out.

My ankle was caught under a desk. That saved my life. And I just tore my leg right out and I started getting out. And I got some other guys and we got two other guys. We just pulled them right out of the spot that I was at.

VAN SUSTEREN: Zach...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, I'm sorry, Hal. Go on.

ZACH KAHN: And then we just all started to get out and started helping each other. And before we knew it, everything had just stopped and people were seriously injured and people were in shock and everything.

VAN SUSTEREN: Zach?

ZACH KAHN: Yes?

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean -- I mean, Hal -- Hal, for you, what do you remember?

HAL EMAS, SURVIVED TORNADO: At first, we had just gotten back from dinner, and we were in our patrol sites (ph), and one of the staff members had come up to our patrol site and said, Everybody, you need to stay everything down really tightly. There are going to be really strong winds tonight.

And the rain had let up for a little bit, so we ran over to the troop shelter. And we were playing cards on the deck. And the staff had come over because they had a staff meeting. And during -- after the meeting was over, the Scoutmaster, Fred, he sat outside with us. And after about 10 minutes of sitting there, he said, Everybody quiet. And he said, Everyone inside. The sirens just went off.

And so while we were inside, we were sitting down, and then the lights had just gone out and we were just about to pick a movie, and then the Scoutmaster runs in and says, Everybody underneath the tables now. And two seconds later, the -- all the walls just exploded. And after what -- the Scoutmaster's truck knocked over the fireplace. And I was holding onto a table, and it got blown out of my hands. So I opened up my eyes to look for something to grab onto and I grabbed onto a pole that was in the foundation. And that's what happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: Rick, you're the father of Hal. Where were you at the time of the storm? And how did you hear that the storm had -- that the tornado had struck the camp?

RICK EMAS, FATHER: I was on my way home from a meeting elsewhere in Omaha that had been canceled because the weather was turning bad. And I was on the interstate coming home when my wife called hysterically saying that the camp had been hit by a tornado and we had to go up to Little Sioux to get him, that he had called and said that he was OK, but he wanted us to come up and get him.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that you got one of the lucky calls, I guess, in many ways. There were four parents, sets of parents, who weren't so lucky. Mark, how did you hear about the tornado hitting the camp, and what did you do?

MARK KAHN, FATHER: Well, we were in contact with as many people as we could by cell phone. One of my friends, his son was injured pretty bad and is at Sioux City right now, at Mercy Hospital, was headed up there, and we were in contact with him. And we were just waiting at a restaurant, waiting to hear anything, and then there they lowered us into the basement and had TVs going. And you could just see it all unfold on TV. And it was devastating because you hear that four kids have died, and you're just wondering if one of them's yours!

VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, do you know how -- the level of injuries of the other Scouts?

MARK KAHN: I came back to Omaha later and took a couple people up to Sioux City. And I was at the hospital up there, and one of the boys had a collapsed lung up there but is doing fine now. Another one had -- his hip was broken. And I guess a couple other ones had broken limbs of some sort that they were repairing at that time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Zach, is there a way to describe how you feel today?

ZACH KAHN: Sort of. Today, I don't feel very good with all my injuries and everything. I was taken to the hospital because my back wasn't doing so well right after the tornado, so I was taken in the ambulance to the hospital with another kid in my patrol and some other kids who were hurt. And when we got to the hospital, I was OK and everything. We went and did some X-rays, and I believe one of the nurses said that if a stone would have hit me in the back, I would have broken my back, or something like that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hal, how about you? How you feel today? I mean, this is something, you know, we don't expect Scouts to have to deal with.

HAL EMAS: After what happened yesterday and today, I feel like what happened yesterday gave me a whole new meaning to what "Be prepared" means. It means, like, there's one thing to be prepared, but it's another to be prepared for a tornado.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you two guys, in many ways, are lucky, in many ways unlucky. It certainly is a tragedy for your community, for the Scouts and the families. Zach, Hal, Rick and Mark, gentlemen, thank you very much.

MARK KAHN: Thank you.

RICK EMAS: Thank you.

ZACH KAHN: Thank you.

HAL EMAS: Thank you.



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