ELGIN, TEXAS - The mystery driver of a red pickup truck caught on camera being thrown around in a tornado Monday has been identified as a 16-year-old junior at IDEA Rundberg High School. He tells FOX 7 Austin he is glad he made it out of that situation alive.
"Seeing the video, I'm like that's me in there and I could have not been here, but thank God I am," said Riley Leon.
Riley Leon still cannot believe that is him in a viral video showing him stuck in a tornado inside his truck.
"That's me inside of the truck spinning around. I survived that," he said.
The video of Riley has gained the attention of people across the country who have watched him get tossed around by strong tornado winds before the truck miraculously whips back on its wheels, and he is able to drive off. It was a scary experience especially for this 16-year-old.
"Everyone thinks I'm an adult, but, in reality I'm a minor. A 16-year-old that still goes to school," said Riley.
He says that day, he was on his way back from a job interview at a Whataburger in Elgin only 10 minutes away from his home when he encountered the dangerous weather.
"Right when I was going to take the U-turn, that's when the tornado came and lifted my truck," he said.
The truck was lifted and tossed around on its side like a piece of paper, according to Riley. Luckily, he made it out with only a few scratches on his arms.
Riley told FOX 7 that he got the job at Whataburger after braving the elements to attend the interview.
The experience scared him so bad, he chose not to tell his family exactly what happened to avoid worrying them. However, they knew instantly it was his truck once they saw the viral video.
"I can't imagine him being in there and coming out with only scratches on him," said Elvia Leon Martinez while watching the video.
Martinez says she still cannot believe her son made it out alive. She says she remembers warning her son to not go to the job interview because of the weather, but, regardless, she is thankful he is with her now.
"I give thanks to God that he protected him all this time," she said.
Riley says this has been a learning experience that he wants to share with others.
"If there's going to be bad weather, stay home. No matter what the important thing is to you, stay home. Your life matters more," he said.
Riley says his truck is beaten and scratched up. It is parked at a family friend’s place in Elgin.
Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet in Fort Worth confirmed with FOX 7 on Thursday that Riley and his family are getting a Chevrolet truck as a gift from the dealership.