Barnes & Noble manager saves couple and baby’s lives during tornado

A worker at a local bookstore saved the lives of a family seeking shelter from a storm.
Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 11:24 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Region 8 News has received multiple tips and messages about heroes, who performed without a cape and saved the lives of many during the tornado Saturday,

And Vicki Thompson, the assistant manager for Barnes in Noble, is one of them.

She has worked at the bookstore since it first opened its doors 14 years ago. She spent her final moments in the store saving those around her.

“It was just surreal," Thompson said.

She recalls the moments before a tornado hit Turtle Creek Mall.

“I don’t know that much about clouds and what they form or how. But I had this feeling that that little cloud was something to keep an eye on," Thompson said.

Her husband, who was a meteorologist in the military, had told her to always keep an “eye in the sky, eye in the sky.”

She felt things were about to get bad and right before she went inside, a family stopped and asked if the store was open.

“I told them, ‘Hey, you guys have to come with me because we are going to go to our safe spot’,” Thompson said.

And only moments later, the store was turned upside down.

“When I opened the door, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness’," Thompson said.

Everyone, from her small staff of 5 and that family, was safe and the family man thanked Vicki for just allowing them to come inside to shelter in from the elements.

Her manager even praised her for her quick movements.

“What a rock she was. I was here with four walls that withstood those winds and I was a disaster," Barnes & Noble Manager Colleen Gibbons said. "She was in four walls with only one still standing with many lives in her hands and she was totally cool, calm, collected.”

As the group escaped the mess that the tornado left behind, she learned more about the family.

“He said I’m a cop and he was helping us take pictures and everything," Thompson said.

She said she never knew that she was helping someone who vowed to protect and serve so many others and for that, she knew it was just pure instincts.

“It didn’t really strike me as that’s what I was doing. It was supposed to be what I was supposed to do,” Thompson said.

Vicki said she hopes one day, she will get the chance to reconnect with that same family, but under better circumstances.

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