Two local ad executives got more than they bargained for when they traveled to a trade show in Salt Lake City a couple weeks ago.
The sky was bright when David Swaebe of Mullen, Wenham, Mass., and Jennifer Grady of O'Neal & Prelle, Hartford, Conn., arrived in Utah on Aug. 11 for the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market. A few hours later, as Grady rested in her hotel room and Swaebe ran across the street to grab lunch at a deli, the sky darkened, winds picked up and hail began to fall.
"There were trees folding in half," Swaebe said. "I thought, 'Man, they have really intense thunderstorms here.'"
When he joined a crowd around the deli's television, he learned that just three blocks away a tornado had peeled the roof off the Delta Center, home of the Utah Jazz, damaged the hotel where many outdoor retailers were staying and demolished one of the pavilions being set up for the show. Tragically, a contractor working there was killed and scores more were injured.
An hour after the tornado passed, Grady ventured outside. "The sky--it was just scary. It was really black," she said. "I heard sirens and helicopters. I saw people with neck braces, cuts and bruises. It was a horrible sight. I thank God I wasn't hurt."