Tenn. Pastor Credits ‘Hero’ Dog who Was Killed in Tornado with Saving Family from Storm

A man whose house was destroyed by a Tennessee tornado is crediting an unlikely source for helping his family of five escape the storm unscathed: his late dog.

Darrin Crockett was miffed when Doc, the family dog, would not stop barking the night of Monday, March 2 at the family’s home in Cookeville.

Crockett, his wife Jenny and their three daughters had gone to bed, but Doc remained awake, barking again and again into the night.

“[It] was really making me angry because I wanted to sleep,” he told the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. “I went out several times to check, and there was nothing outside, nothing going on, but he kept barking, and I remember praying to the lord, ‘I know that you’re sovereign over all things, and so could you please make our dog quit barking, make him shut up?’”

Doc didn’t stop barking — but as it turns out, his noises were a lucky break for Crockett, as being awake allowed him to hear a storm alert on his phone and get his family to safety in the nick of time.

“I think the lord had other reasons for the dog barking, because I was able to hear our phone buzz when the severe thunderstorm warning came through,” he said. “It is amazing. If our dog had not alerted us, who knows where we would have ended up?”

After being alerted to a tornado warning on his phone, Crockett rounded up his wife and daughters, ages 10 to 15, and they quickly sought shelter in their laundry room, which he called their “safety go-to place.”

Though Crockett thought he had time to spare, he told the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board that he’d only just closed the laundry room door when their house began to crumble.

“The house starts shaking, and it was on us, and the next thing you know, it was gone and we are underneath the house,” he said.

After making sure his family was accounted for, Jenny, with the help of flashlights and the illumination of lightning strikes, was able to find an opening for the family to crawl through to make their way to safety.

“In cleanup yesterday, we found the washer and dryer laid on their backs, [and] the board, the 2×4 that had fallen on them, and I think that probably had supported the part of our house that had fallen on us,” he said. “We’re just fortunate to have had room to crawl out and only experienced some minor scrapes and nail pokes along the way.”

Crockett said that as his family made their escape, they could hear Doc “moaning and whimpering” but were unable to find him.

They later learned that he died in the storm.

“He will go down as a hero,” Crockett told the Baptist and Reflector. “We will celebrate him and talk about him for a long time.”

Crockett, the associate pastor of Vine Branch Community Church and a school administrator and the athletic director at Highland Rim Academy, later returned to where his house once stood to clean up and found only rubble, a photo of which was shared on a GoFundMe page organized to help the family.

“Darrin and Jenny ha[ve] always been so giving in our community and especially to our youth,” the page reads. “Now it’s time for us to step up and help them.”

The tornadoes last week killed at least 24 people in parts of Nashville and central Tennessee, including Putnam (where Cookeville is located), Benton and Wilson Counties, NBC News reported.

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