LINN: Well the call that came out that there was a car that was on Harding right there at Belle Meade Plaza Shopping Center at Linwood that was flooded, which there’s a creek, Richland Creek that runs right through there, and they were having trouble towing it because the creek was rising. And of course we had no idea how that was rising, the way it really was, the way we thought. And there was a Belle Meade officer already on the scene, trying to make the pull and apparently he was having some difficulty because we thought it was just blocking the road. So I was leaving the station, West Station, and started heading thataway because we were all busy, tied up right out of roll call, so I thought I’d go over there to see what I could do to help out.
GIBBONS: What was the scene like when you got there?
LINN: Well, when I arrived, I had no idea what rising water, what my thought of what the rising water was, of what was in actuality happening. It’d left its bank, it was totally covering Harding. I mean, flooded to the point where it was totally impassable, where sometimes you can just drive slowly and go through some high water, you know, to cross it, this was just, it was impossible. It was more like a small, well, a creek that had a lot of power. It was just, I wouldn’t say that it was a small river but it was definitely coming up to that point. The wrecker driver had just— I came, I knew I couldn’t get through on Hillwood, so I came across White Bridge Road and I could look down at Richland Creek and I knew then there was a problem, because the railroad tracks, I mean, everything was covered up. Hit Harding, turned right, and realized the road was just flooded and the tow truck driver had pulled up to get his tow truck out of the rising water and pull attempts.
“What car? What do we have?”
Well, he said “The car,” he pointed down into the water that “that car was needed to be towed,” and that’s what he was originally here for and there was a Belle Meade police officer attempting to help him. But he realized that the water was coming up too fast and wanted to save himself along with his tow truck and so he got in the tow truck and left. But the Belle Meade officer stayed.
And we knew the first problem was, I said, “Are you sure that Belle Meade officer is still in his car?” Because we were several hundred yards away. And he goes, “Yeah. He’s just sitting in his car.” And at that time I noticed that his car came uplifted, became a floating device. And again I asked the wrecker driver, “Are you sure there’s someone in that car?” Because he goes, “Well there was no one in the car I was towing, it was a vacant car. But that Belle Meade car, there’s an officer still in there.” And it just picked up and it just floated around into the woods.
So that was the first problem, I knew that things were really getting out of hand. And then we were right there in front of the Kroger, that shopping center and that lot was beginning to flood and there were people in the lot trying to come out of Kroger’s and people already in the lot trying to get into Kroger’s. It was just coming up so fast, people just, well, it just took everybody—anybody who had any presence of mind just lost it, because I don’t think anybody really had experienced that kind of rising water that quickly.
So we got the Belle Meade situation going on and then we suddenly realize there’s a gentleman who’s gotten into his car and is attempting to leave the parking lot and drive into even deeper water. And when he did that, his car became a floating object and takes off towards Richland Creek. And at this time, it is, it’s a river and it’s got rapids in it, it’s just flowing. His car, there’s a little spot between the Kroger and the Belle Meade Plaza shopping center, his car went down nose deep and just got lodged into there’s a parking garage there. It was front end down under the water with the rear end up. Not to mention other people that were attempting this. It was very chaotic for a period of time. I got on the radio, I of course started calling for more cars. This was just getting out of hand quickly. I tried to contact Belle Meade to see if they knew about their officer, if he’d gotten out, you know, what was going on. And there was this gentleman, he became, in this red car, he starts hollering for help. So we got a couple things going on. I didn’t know what to do about the Belle Meade officer because he was just sight unseen, but this gentleman in this red car was just a hundred yards or so away so we thought we could at least get him help. So myself and several other Metro officers and citizens, just gave of themselves and didn’t think twice, we went over to him and began to try and rescue him. So, now in his situation, his car was submerged, we lowered a guy down to his car, tried to break out the glass to get him out of the car, wasn’t able to, then got back up and got some tools, lowered another guy down, broke out the back of his glass, the water was rising and he was about to become submerged and be carried away but we were able to pull him out and get him to safety. The Belle Meade officer ended up evacuating his car at a later time and we called Urban Search once things calmed down to the degree where we could get some kind of rescue going towards him. Then they came in one of their rescue boats and went into the woods, which they endangered themselves, they were, they really need to be credited for what they did also. And he had jumped out his car and was found clinging to a tree and blowing his whistle, trying to get help.
So that was my involvement that day, or at least that section of what was going on.