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Tornado tosses car into air, flips it over, but Zach Means, dog walk away uninjured

'I'm lucky, my dog's lucky, everybody's lucky,' driver says
Posted at 6:08 PM, May 01, 2023

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Zach Means was staring out his front windshield Saturday afternoon as low-flying debris whizzed in front of his car. By his side was his loyal dog, Marlin.

"He knew,'" Means recalled.

Means, like so many others, had just received an alert on his phone about a tornado warning.

"At that point, I knew it was probably best for us to try to get off the road," he said. "So, we were headed back to the apartment and, unfortunately, we were headed into the path of the tornado."

Zach Means says he was in path of tornado when car flipped, May 1, 2023
Zach Means says he was in the path of a tornado when its powerful winds tossed it into the air and flipped it over while he and his dog were inside.

He drives past PGA Boulevard and U.S. Highway 1 every day and was minutes from home when the winds from what turned out to be an EF2 tornado lifted his car and flipped him over.

"It was really (an) intense scene, but the actual car flipping, that was very unexpected," he said. "Like, I could see all the stuff flying around but the car wasn't shaking or moving a lot. It just went from, oh, I'm watching this in front of me to, like, it took us away, like instantly."

Zach Means cellphone video of car flipping over in tornado
Cellphone video from Zach Means captures the moment that a tornado flipped his car into the air while he and his dog were inside.

Another driver was in a car near Means, recording video of the flying debris on her phone, when Means' car spun and rolled over.

"When the car started to flip, like, I do remember kind of like a flash of seeing the airbag go off and the glass break, but then, you know, we were back upright, and I was just sitting there with my hands on the wheel, and it seemed to happen, basically, instantaneously," he recalled.

The car landed wheels down in the opposite direction.

Means and Marlin retraced those heart-stopping moments for WPTV on Monday. He doesn't recall how many times his car flipped.

Zach Means shows where tornado tossed his car into air as broken windshield rests in grass, May 1, 2023
Zach Means points to where his car was when a tornado tossed it into the air, showing WPTV's Shannon Cake how it ended up. His car's broken windshield can be seen in the grass nearby.

"The only thing I know is what happened in the video," he said.

When the car came to a rest, Means said there was one thing on his mind.

"Honestly, it was the dog," he said. "Turned around, it was the first thing I did, and I said his name and his head pops up from the trunk."

Now he's back to walking with Marlin, sifting through the debris field from his car and the tornado's track.

"I'm lucky, my dog's lucky, everybody's lucky that, you know, everybody walked away unscathed," he said.