Richmond Hill man directly under meteor's path - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Richmond Hill man directly under meteor's path

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
What would you do if you thought the world was ending? From Chelyabinsk, Russia, Tom Cooper called his wife.
 
"I didn't know if we were under attack, World War III, if she was under attack," he said. "At least I could get a phone call in before she was missiled."
 
The Coopers have been married for 31 years. The sun had just risen on February 15 in Russia. But in Richmond Hill, there was a half hour till midnight.
 
"It was still Valentine's Day," Karen Cooper said. "And I thought maybe he just remembered."
Forget hearts and flowers.
 
Maybe the truest testament to lifetime love is the first person you'd call in your last seconds on Earth. Tom Cooper was genuinely terrified.
 
"It was World War III," he said. "That's what it felt like."
 
Mr. Cooper was in Russia on business, at a truck manufacturing plant directly under the meteor's path. 
 
"There was just this brilliant flash across the shop," he remembered in a Saturday interview. "And this guy said, 'It's just a short circuit,' and I said, 'It wasn't a short circuit. The lights are still on.'"
 
About 40 seconds went by.
 
"You just heard this huge explosion. And the second one was closer, and it sounded like bombs dropping. The walls of the plant pushed in, and then back."
 
Seven people in that Terex Corporate plant were injured, Mr. Cooper said. Scientists estimate the space rock was 10 thousand tons and 55 feet across. But Mr. Cooper said hours went by without an explanation from Russian media.
 
"People were saying they'd have to listen to the U.S. news to find out what happened, kind of jokingly," he said. "But in reality, they were."
 
The whole city seemed dazed.
 
"More and more people turned up injured, and emergency rooms were filled with people," Mr. Cooper said. "It wasn't a scene you'd typically see in Savannah or in any big metropolitan area where you'd see ambulances and sirens going. It was quiet."
 
Conspiracy theories abounded in Chelyabinsk about the cause of the blast. And a survey published yesterday by a Moscow newspaper indicates they haven't died down. Only half of the paper's readers believe it really was a meteor.
 
"There's a lot of, maybe, distrust," Mr. Cooper said.
 
So maybe the relationship between Russia and its citizens isn't always on solid ground. But what about the Cooper relationship? Well, that depends on what Tom does next February 14th. 
 
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