DODGE CITY, KS– Fight experts always say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
But let’s just say when it is man versus tornado, the tornado usually wins no matter the size of the fight in the man.
Derek Ronnebaum, a 32-year-old Dodge City, Kan. resident died Saturday attempting to defend his farmhouse from an EF-4 tornado that registered winds ranging between 166 and 200 mph. Witnesses say Ronnebaum, who was wielding a 12 gauge shotgun and an American flag, tried to take the tornado head on.
Adam Keehbauch a long time family friend recalls the tragedy as he watched from the farmhouse cellar window.
“We had been drinking Sailor Jerry in the cellar waiting for the tornado sirens to stop and then we saw through the window this giant black funnel approach the house,” said Keehbauch. “Derek just started screaming hysterically ‘not in my house, not in my house, we will protect this house.’ He grabbed the shotgun and the flag and ran outside.”
Keehbauch explains he tried to talk Ronnebuam back into the house, but Ronnebaum was persistent.
“I just watched my friend stand in the path of the tornado and scream, ‘you wanna fuck with me? Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to my little friend!’ Then he fired his shotgun like a big idiot,” said Keehbauch.
The tornado did say hello to Ronnebaum’s little friend as coroners found his body a mile east of the house. Ironically, Ronnebaum’s little friend may have been what killed him according to Dodge City coroner Rachel Alexander.
“It appears Ronnebaum was dead before the tornado had an opportunity to sweep him away,” said Alexander. “When Ronnebaum fired the shotgun the bullet was sucked up by the tornado and the funnel slung the bullet back with other debris that made contact with Ronnebaum’s temple.”
Family and friends could not believe that the bullet Ronnebaum fired eventually killed him.
“What a big, big idiot,” said Keehbauch.
Dodge City coroner Alexander is still determining whether to call the case a suicide or death by tornado.
Ronnebaum leaves his wife Brittany Ronnebaum and their five kids Derek Ronnebaum, Derek Ronnebaum Junior, Derick Ronnebaum, Dereka Ronnebaum, and Erek Ronnebaum.