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West Michigan family seen on police body cam video escaping Nashville RV explosion

Buddy Gainey, his wife and 2 daughters all made it out of a rented condo situated just a few hundred feet away from the Christmas Day explosion in downtown Nashville
Posted at 4:40 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 16:43:30-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A West Michigan man and his family are alive alive after the Christmas Day RV bombing in Nashville rocked the condo they were staying at while visiting their daughter who lives in the area for the holidays.

The explosion happened just after 6:30 a.m. on December 25th in front an AT&T facility downtown. For about 15 minutes prior to the bomb going off, a loud ominous message was played from an RV parked in the roadway.

Just a few moments before the vehicle exploded, police officers with Nashville Metro PD were rushing around the area, evacuating anyone they could find.

Buddy Gainey, his wife Michelle, and their youngest daughter Quincy were in town visiting their oldest daughter Cayman for the holidays. While Cayman has her own place in the area, she had decided to stay the night at the condo her family had rented.

They would be awoken from a dead sleep that morning to the sound of chaos and countless smoke alarms.

Gainey spoke with FOX 17 Tuesday about what the surreal experience, saying, the blast "shook the whole building... glass and all kinds of things breaking and falling over the condo."

He says they had no idea what was happening at the time. "I'm thinking, something like that must be an earthquake."

Still in shock, they attempted to get out of bed and evacuate.

“When we came out of our condo and headed to the front... all those doors were gone, obliterated. There was glass debris, there was a water pipe that was busted, just pouring water down in that whole area," Gainey said.

As his daughters sprinted into the street and towards their rental vehicle in a nearby parking lot, Gainey carried his stunned wife over his shoulder through the rubble.

His family's escape was captured on the body camera of a Nashville Metro officer. The department released the video to the public on Monday.

SEE MORE: Bodycam video shows effort to rescue people ahead of Nashville bombing

In the video Gainey runs past an officer who asks him where their vehicle is. After pointing across the road, he asks the officer what happened.

"They said it was a bomb."

Michelle and one of their daughters left the room so quickly, they were unable to put on their shoes.

"It literally was like watching an action movie war zone scenario... there's bricks and wood and glass strewn all over the street... there's this fire on this car, just engulfed in flames right across from us. I mean, it was it was terrifying," Gainey said.

The family had parked their car in a spot out front of their condo the night before, only moving it at the last minute to avoid their meter expiring. Gainey says the car would have been a complete loss if had still been parked out front when the explosion went off.

“Even where our car was, we had a lot of damage to the rental car. There were 2 places in the windshield that were cracked, there was damage along the side from debris,” he told FOX 17 Tuesday.

“I truly believe that was God protecting us… that allowed us to have a vehicle to escape.”

RELATED: Survivor of Nashville explosion: 'I feel very lucky on this Christmas to be here'

The vehicle still operated and they were able to leave the immediate area.

“Just started trying to get away from downtown as quick as possible," Gainey said.

"My daughters are all sobbing, and we're all still in major shock. We started calling our immediate family just to let them know what happened.”

They were able to drive to Spring Hill, which was only a 30 minute drive, to temporarily stay with their son Mason's in-laws.

“Physically, we're all right. Emotionally, it's pretty tough. Certainly loud noises kind of startle you and just replaying the scene in your mind over and over. And I think we're probably suffering from some PTSD, and need to get some counseling for some of that," Gainey told FOX 17.

“I keep thinking, you know, the building could have collapsed on us. We could have been trapped under concrete and steel. We could have lost limbs, could have lost our lives. I just think it was a way that God protected us.”

RELATED: Metro Nashville police officers recount Christmas morning bombing