Teens share story of survival and loss

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Two teens from Whitehouse who were camping in Arkansas when that fatal flash flood hit are back home Tuesday and speaking out about the disaster. They say God answered their prayer for help and definitely has a plan for their lives.

When a 23-foot high wall of water came crashing through the Albert Pike Campgrounds, Austin Rachal and Brady Pate took shelter in a truck with the rest of their group. But, one by one, they were swept away.

"We just started floating down the river and the current was so strong it kept my head underwater I don't know how long," said Brady. "Time just stood still."

"The water was really strong and so you couldn't really do anything," said Austin.

Another boy in their group yelled for help as he got tangled-up in a branch. Austin's dad, Anthony, saved him only to lose his own life.

"He went underwater and pulled the branch so his foot could get loose and that's the last any of us saw him," said Brady.

Austin's 5-year-old half-brother and 2-year-old half-sister also drowned. Family members say they believe the three are in a far better place. But, it is a horrific tragedy for those left behind like Austin to live with, and with Father's Day right around the corner.

"My dad was truly the best...It's just really hard to explain because he's not here and he's not going to be here, but for 13 years of my life he's always been the best you know," said Austin.

The fact that anyone survived is incredible. Brady believes God had a hand in it.

"I just started praying to get me out of here and help get someone else out," he said.

Seconds after that prayer, Brady says the current calmed and he was pushed into a large oak tree. That's where he rode out the storm.

"It wasn't luck," he said. "It was God."

Austin also grabbed for trees to reach safety. They say it was a fight to survive.

"Some moving car or something would hit that, break it, then you go off for another tree," he said.

Brady and Austin now have an unbreakable bond. A vacation turned nightmare that has forever changed their lives.

"You definitely learn to tell you love everyone you know when you get the chance," said Brady.

"And don't take anything for granted," Austin said.

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