Minister and family escape death after tornado collapses house
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
COOKEVILLE — For the first in his life, Darrin Crockett is glad God did not answer his prayer.
On Monday night, March 2, Crockett and his family went to bed as always. Their dog, “Doc,” however barked incessantly throughout the night. Crockett remembers asking God “to make that dog quit barking.”
God apparently chose not to answer that prayer. As a result, the Crockett family is alive and well after an estimated EF-4 tornado blasted through their home in Cookeville, leaving them trapped under a pile of building materials and rubble.
Reflecting on that night, Crockett sees how God orchestrated their survival. Had Doc not barked most of the night, Crockett may not have heard his phone alarm signaling a storm warning. As a result, he and his wife, Jenny, and daughters Carly, Camryn and Carrigan took refuge in the laundry room, the only place they probably could have survived, Crockett said.
“We heard it coming and suddenly the house began to shake,” he said. “Next thing I remember is I felt grass underneath me. The tornado must have picked up the entire house dropped it in the yard with us buried underneath it.”
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A 2×4 board that fell across a turned over washer and dryer likely provided them enough room to keep from being crushed. Lighting flashes exposed what few openings there were and the family crawled out from the collapsed building with only a few minor cuts and scratches.
Crockett, associate pastor of Vine Branch Community Church and a school administrator and athletic director at Highland Rim Academy, both in Cookeville, acknowledged that their survival is a miracle.
“It is amazing,” he acknowledged. “If our dog had not alerted us, who knows where we would have ended up?”
As he stood near the pile of rubble that once was his house and watched countless volunteers salvage items and drag the ruins to nearby trash piles, Crockett knows without a doubt that God spared him and his family.
“We have tremendous peace and joy,” he noted.
Two things, however, “get me emotional,” Crockett continued — knowing how close they came to someone planning their funerals this week and the outpouring of support from the community. “It’s amazing to look around and realize we are not alone.”
Crockett knows he and his family are recipients of God’s grace. “I’ve seen God’s grace in so many ways and in so many places. This affirms it even more,” he acknowledged.
The outpouring of support from Baptists and other Christians, not only in the community, but from across the state also has been “overwhelming and amazing,” he said.
Baptists have received a lot of negative press across the nation in recent months, Crockett observed. “But when it comes down to it, the church does what God calls it to do. Nothing else matters in times like these,” he affirmed.
The Cookeville minister expressed his appreciation to Tennessee Baptists for their response, love and resources. “It’s overwhelming.”
Though they have each other, the Crocketts did experience a significant loss in the aftermath of the tornado. Their beloved dog “Doc,” who probably saved their lives with his barking, did not survive.
“He will go down as a hero,” Crockett said. “We will celebrate him and talk about him for a long time”
Editor’s note: If you would like to financially give to support the relief effort to tornado victims, please visit tndisasterrelief.org and click the “Give Now” button.