Man who survived Otter Tail County tornado recalls how he got out alive

DALTON, Minn. — As he watched windows shatter and the walls around him collapse, Nate Erickson of Battle Lake didn’t think he’d survive the tornado ripping through County Road 82.

“Other than that Quadtrac saving my life, you can look around; we didn’t really stand a chance out here,” he said.

His split-second decision to get under a tractor ended up saving his life.

With dirt in his eyes and the wind howling in his ears, he held onto the Quadtrac as he was dragged across the ground.

Erickson made it out, but not without cuts and bruises.

“I don’t think I slept at all last night, and I think that’s going to take a while to, I don’t know, get back to trusting mother nature,” he said.

A slab of concrete is all that remains of the freight shipping and trucking company Erickson and 30-year-old Seth Nelson worked in alongside one another.

The two were together when the tornado ripped through the building.

Nelson didn’t make it.

“I sit at home in my chair with my 10-month-old boy, and I think that one time that was Seth and his dad, and that what my son means to me, Seth meant that to other people,” said Erickson.

Nelson leaves behind his wife and four children, one of whom is only a couple months old.

“Seth did everything for that little family,” Erickson added. “She took care of the kids and he came here and made one heck of a living for them, and there ain’t another guy on the face of this earth that can fill that hole in her heart the way he was for her.”

Now is the time, he says, for the community to come together and show support during an unimaginable time for the family.

“We’re a tight community, and as you can see by the people out there, we’re all trying to help one another, and when there’s loss of life it’s even that much greater,” said Otter Tail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons.

Volunteers from Dalton, Ashby and beyond are coming together to try and clean up the destruction left behind, all the while grieving and remembering Nelson’s life, which they say was taken too soon.

You can donate to the Nelson family’s GoFundMe by clicking here.

Categories: Local News, Minnesota News