GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A family from Grand Rapids escaped their rental condo in Nashville, Tennessee after a bomb blew up near where they were staying Christmas morning.
Buddy Gainey, along with his wife, Michelle, and daughter Quincy, were visiting daughter Cayman who had recently moved to the city.
“Six-thirty Christmas morning out of a dead sleep, the explosion went off. Loudest noise I can ever recall hearing combined with the entire building shaking and glass falling and debris falling,” Gainey said.
The family had rented the condo to stay in for the holiday on Second Avenue, right near where an RV blew up on the street.
“Fire alarms were going off. I could smell smoke, so I was concerned about a fire. So, I yelled to my daughters down the hall, my wife, you know ‘there’s smoke we’ve got to get out of here,'” Gainey said.
The family originally thought they were renting the condo with a view of the street but did not notice in the listing that it was an interior unit, which they were unable to change. The explosion had heavily damaged the front of the building. Gainey says not being able to get a condo on the street ended up being a blessing.
“As we came out of our condo, all those doors were completely gone, they were obliterated there was nothing left, just glass and wood, there was a pipe that was obviously busted pouring water down,” Gainey said.
He had contemplated parking his car on the street the night before but changed his mind.
“I think God directed me to move it to the surface lot across the street,” Gainey said.
They saw a car engulfed in flames in the same part of the street he originally planned to park. Gainey’s car ended up suffering damage but could still start and get them safely from the area.
“We started to hear officers yelling for us to get out go and go my wife and my daughter Quincy neither one had shoes on so they’re bare feet. I turn and look at my wife, and I think just from the shock, she’s just kind of standing there, so I ran back and grabbed her. Threw her over my shoulder we ran up to the corner,” Gainey said.
An officer with the Metro Nashville Police Department had a body camera rolling where you can see the family trying to get out.
“It was so surreal. I mean, it’s literally like watching a movie on TV. When you came out, it was just starting to get light, so it was still kind of dark and the flames from the car and debris everywhere it just looked like a war zone,” Gainey said.
The family is grateful for the work of police and firefighters who responded quickly.
“I think it was just amazing, you know that these guys ran into the face of danger didn’t really have regard for their personal safety just making sure they could get everybody out that they possibly could. I just think God was looking after us all of us that day,” Gainey said.
He says the family is still shaken by the bombing days later.
“It’s pretty hard emotionally if you hear a loud noise, you jump. I know my daughters are dealing with what’s probably PTSD pretty severely. It’s just something that you also keep replaying in your mind waking up and hearing that, and then you go to the scenario to if the building had collapsed, we would have died, or we could have been trapped under concrete and steel,” Gainey said.
Gainey says despite the trauma they encountered — the family is grateful everyone made it out unharmed.
“The greatest Christmas present we got that day was walking away with our lives and no injuries,” Gainey said.