Family survives terrifying ordeal

HOUSTON A Magnolia woman is home safe now, banged up and bruised, but alive to tell the tale of her escape from that flooding.

"I'm thinking, my kids, where are my kids? Are they going to be OK? I thought I could get out, but I couldn't get out," said Tonya Shephard of Magnolia.

The flooding started early Wednesday after heavy rains. Tonya woke her kids up and told them they had to get out. So the family climbed into their Expedition and tried to drive out. But the raging water was too much. The SUV began to float, so the family rolled down the windows and climbed out.

"I crawled out first with my little puppy, my little Shih Tzu dog, Missy, and I got swept away immediately," said Tonya.

The kids, who clung to a tree, watched helplessly.

"This has to be a nightmare," said Tyler Shepherd, Tonya's 18-year-old son. "This can't be happening."

Tyler went after his mom.

"All I can think about is diving after her," he said.

Tyler was swept nine miles down the Guadalupe River; his mom, 15 miles. Tonya finally grabbed onto to a tree and pulled herself out.

"I broke two of my ribs and a toe and I've got bruises all over my head, my whole body, my legs," she said.

But she walked a mile to a convenience store, where a stranger let her use a cell phone to call her husband, Steve.

"I was bawling," said Steve. "I mean, yeah, it was the happiest moment of my life."

Steve called it the best phone call ever. He'd already heard from Tyler and the other kids. And as for Tonya, she's looking forward to healing from her bumps and bruises

"I'll be fine," she said. "At least I lived. My kids lived."

Missy, Tonya's dog, has not been found.

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