Please take note: This post has been updated.
A civilian vehicle containing six National Guardsmen and the law enforcement officer in charge was heading into the tornado-damaged town of Moore, Okla., when the wreckage of a local school was spotted on the road, said Maj. George Brown, deputy command staff officer for the Oklahoma National Guard.
The vehicle stopped, and the sergeant leading the group inside the convoy—law enforcement Officer Mark Bowen—was able to open the doors, but the tornado had simply lifted the vehicles intact into the air and they were spinning toward the ground. Bowen and the officers in the vehicles were killed when a limb smashed into his head, said Brown.
By the time Bowen could open the door of the vehicle, it was too late to rescue the group—the tornado had gone through the area, said Brown.
The medic had already begun performing CPR on Bowen, but he was pronounced dead at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center.
Lt. Col. David Joyner was also in the convoy, said Brown. Joyner, who is attached to the Red Cross, was driving his own vehicle and the same fire truck that Bowen was driving at the time. “We are better off knowing that Joyner is alive than not. This might be even more tragic if he hadn’t been there,” Brown said.
Joyner was killed.
The National Guard troops were headed in the direction of Plaza Towers Elementary School to provide security for volunteers and first responders who had already started going to that school, Brown said. The bodies of the three National Guardsmen were found along with those of Bowen and Joyner, said Brown.
Brown said he was at a briefing in the area of Brown’s head injury when he was informed of the death of Bowen.
The squadron commander overseeing Bowen’s security detail was within the convoy when the tornado hit, said Brown. They couldn’t get any of Bowen’s guardsmen out of the vehicles, he said.
“Obviously, Mark Bowen was leading the convoy,” said Brown. “It is terribly tragic.”