Cheatham County deputies responding to emergency were caught on bridge during EF2 tornado

The ordeal was captured on camera
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Posted at 4:42 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 20:35:00-05

KINGSTON SPRINGS, Tenn. (WTVF) — As an EF2 tornado ripped through Cheatham County causing massive damage, 911 dispatch lit up with emergency calls.

Two deputies on the overnight shift were among those quick to respond and they suddenly found themselves caught in the storm.

Joe A. Taylor Memorial Bridge spans over the Harpeth River in Kingston Springs and early Saturday morning deputies making their way across the bridge in their squad car found themselves in the path of an EF2 tornado.

Body camera and squad car video show what happened. It was around 3 a.m. Saturday when the tornado arrived in Kingston Springs.

The 911 calls came in a flurry.

"Cheatham County 911 what is your emergency?"

"Uh, we believe we've been hit by a tornado."

"We have a serious gas leak. A tornado just came through and we might have somebody in the house."

Cheatham County deputies Randy Smith and Joe Wehre were enroute to a woman trapped inside her home.

"It was one of our training officers and his trainee. A young man who just started about a month and a half ago," said Lt. Ken Miller.

The moment they began to drive across the Joe Taylor Memorial Bridge — the tornado engulfed the squad car.

The concern was that the tornado might lift the vehicle and simply toss it into the river below.

Lt. Miller says Deputy Smith was behind the wheel and tried to backtrack and take cover under the bridge.

But the force of the wind was simply too much.

"It was moving the vehicle so much he knew the best thing to do was just stop," Lt. Miller said.

They stopped and waited for a few minutes, which seemed like hours until the storm passed. And when it did, the officers were again on their way looking to help and rescue others.

"None of our guys quit that night," said Lt. Miller.

Authorities are still evaluating the size and scope of the tornado that made its way through Cheatham County, but what we do know is that it was more than 400 yards wide and it traveled on the ground for more than 10 miles. It's amazing no one killed.

The Cheatham County sheriff says a dusk to dawn curfew remains in effect as the relief efforts there continue.