GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina resident Malaijah Smoke was driving home from work Wednesday afternoon when a weak tornado lifted her car into the air and dropped it onto another vehicle.
The incident happened along US 52 as outer rain bands from then-Hurricane Idalia moved through the Lowcountry, sparking multiple tornado warnings through the afternoon.
“I see a lot of leaves falling. I see some winds starting but it wasn’t nothing too crazy,” Smoke, who’s five months pregnant, recalled. “It kind of became a blur at the moment, and then all I know is my car was lifted into the air and I’m literally dangling with my seatbelt.”
Mason Stewart was also traveling in the area at the time and captured the incident on video. You can see what appeared to be a tornado lift the vehicle into the air before flipping and sending it crashing down onto another car.
Smoke was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but she somehow managed to avoid serious injuries, suffering only some body soreness and a cut on her hand.
Her baby was also checked out and is doing fine.
“I did have some glass in my nose, and I didn’t even realize until I got to the hospital. I guess I was so in shock. And I had some soreness where the seatbelt was from my chest to my lower belly. No bruising, it’s just sore,” she said.
Smoke said she was trying to get out of the car quickly after landing on the roadway. She was worried about being hit by other cars and unsure if others would stop to help.
Unable to get out of the doors, Smoke pushed herself through the front of the car and out the rear window which had shattered during the incident. The car landed on its side.
“All I could think about was ‘Oh, my gosh. I have to get out. I have to get out some way,’” she said.
One man stopped and picked her off the ground. She believes he placed her inside his truck while they waited for first responders to arrive. Two other women also stopped to help.
Her message to others: “You can be gone tomorrow. Here today, gone tomorrow. Don’t take that saying for granted.”
The National Weather Service in Charleston later confirmed an EF0 tornado moved through the area around 12:22 p.m. The tornado packed about 75 mph winds and traveled approximately 50 yards.
A driver in the vehicle that was struck by Smoke’s car also suffered minor injuries, according to the Goose Creek Police Department.