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When Hurricane Matthew hit Florida in October 2016, a lone driver became a meme for driving toward the storm while practically everyone else in the state was evacuating in the face of 100 MPH winds. What was this person thinking? People joked about everything from forgotten headphones to forgotten porn collections, but no one knew for sure. Now we do, though, because that driver contacted the Daily Dot this week to share the real story.
Kirsty Penn Veros says she didn’t know she was a meme until this week, almost a year after the evacuation. A friend who was evacuating for Hurricane Harvey sent her the picture.
When you gotta evacuate because of a hurricane but you forgot to clear your browser history pic.twitter.com/QyKD1AsJ16— Colton Abbott (@AbbottColton) October 7, 2016
“I made a joke about that probably being me last year,” she told the Daily Dot via Facebook message.”I then looked up pictures of the evacuation and saw [the] post on the Daily Dot. I recognized my car immediately.”
Veros reached out to the Daily Dot unprompted. While she shared a picture of her car, it’s impossible to completely verify her claim, as the license plate in the picture is not visible and the driver is not identifiable.
But why was Veros headed eastbound while everyone else was headed west? It wasn’t because she forgot her headphones, that’s for sure.
“I am a soldier in the Florida Army National Guard,” she told the Daily Dot. “I was living in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, at the time and was activated for Hurricane Relief that morning and had to Report to Crystal River, Florida, by the end of the day.”
That’s a seven-hour drive according to Google Maps, a distance of between 450 and 500 miles, depending on your route. But Veros was able to make great time that day.
“I drove between 90-95 MPH due to lack of eastbound traffic,” she wrote. “I was the only person eastbound for nearly 200 miles.”
She says she thought the meme was hilarious, and found it even funnier that she didn’t know it existed for the better part of a year.
In our original post, we wondered about the fate of the driver (other than the obvious, “becoming a meme.”) “I am alive and well and still serving our country,” Veros assured us.
It’s rare for a person to be a hero and a meme at the same time. Memehood is typically bestowed upon those who make huge mistakes, like driving directly into a hurricane. But this was no mistake, and Veros is certainly a hero.
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Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.