Darlie Routier's mother-in-law injured in East Texas twister

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by STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 25, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 26 at 12:15 AM

VAN ZANDT COUNTY — A Van Zandt County woman who came dangerously close to losing her life in a tornado says it doesn't compare to the anguish she felt when her grandsons were murdered in one of North Texas' most notorious cases.

Sarilda Routier, 62, was the only person injured in last week's twister. Her daughter-in-law is a familiar name.

Darlie Routier was sent to prison after she was convicted of murdering one of her two sons who were slain in Rowlett 14 years ago.

Leonard and Sarilda Routier recently moved to Sand Flat to be close to family and to enjoy the quiet country living in Van Zandt County. Their dream log cabin was ripped apart by last week's tornado.

"The camper went up into the air and turned and came back down," Mrs. Routier said.

She and her husband had been living in a recreational vehicle while their log cabin was being built. Leonard was working in the house when the tornado hit. Sarilda had just stepped out of the RV into a whirlwind of debris.

"As metal and wood was going over me, I came to a tree and I was aware of holding on," she said. "I grabbed the tree so it wouldn't blow me into the pond."

Leonard Routier ran out of what used to be their nearly-finished log cabin, looking for Sarilda. He had to dig her out of the rubble.

"I thought, 'OK... my feet and my toes are OK. And I didn't break a nail — you know how women are," Mrs. Routier said. "I thought, 'I'm in good shape.' And my husband, when he found me, he said, 'Sarilda, everything is gone.'"

Since the cabin wasn't finished, the Routiers couldn't insure it. Even so, she considers herself fortunate and blessed.

"I have truly had God's angels just right on me," she said. "It wasn't time. That tornado went through here, but nothing was going to happen to me."

At first, Mrs. Routier didn't think she was hurt. But when her mid-section swelled, she realized something was wrong.

She spent two days in the intensive care unit of a Tyler hospital, where she was treated for internal bleeding.

Today, Sarilda Routier is out of the hospital, pondering how to rebuild her dream house by the pond.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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