Boy rescues family during tornado

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Lee Steele didn&8217;t set out to be a hero, he just did what he had to do.

Steele, a fifth-grader at Sophia P. Kingston Elementary,

wanted to warn his sister and four cousins about

the Feb. 17 storm that was bearing down on the Wal-Mart shopping center

after hearing it announced over the intercom in the store.

In the process, he helped save his cousins from being hurt, and got them to safety.

Lee is autistic.

Some concepts

he is able to grasp, while others do not come as easily.

Steele, along with younger sister Taylor Steele, were visiting relatives in Autaugaville when a tornado warning was declared for Autauga County.

Steele&8217;s older cousin, Taleeta Steele,

had decided

to leave Autaugaville when the warning was declared, because family members there lived in mobile homes, Tyson said.

Lee, Taylor, and Taleeta, along with four cousins,

piled in the car and headed to Prattville to get out of harm&8217;s way.

Once in Prattville,

the group stopped at Wal-Mart.

Taleeta Steele, who had gone inside with Lee, was unaware that a tornado was forming nearby.

Taylor Steele and their cousins were outside waiting in the car.

The next few minutes went by quickly. In Wal-Mart, the tornado warning was announced, and pandemonium broke loose inside the store.

Once outside, Lee saw flying debris. When he got to the car, the window where his sister Taylor was sitting blew into pieces.

The cousins, who range in age from 8 to 10, saw people being injured by the flying debris. A buggy corral in the next space blew on top of the car.

Lee opened the door, despite the high winds, and the cousins ran into Wal-Mart. They were told to go to the back of the store minutes before having to evacuate the building because of damage to the roof.

The Feb. 17 storms happened on the first day of National Disaster Preparedness Week, which area schools observe.

Both Lee and Taylor

Steele were recognized at school the following week for their bravery, leadership, and

heroism.