SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory - Wind Advisory View Alerts

'This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes.' Witnesses describe surviving the Nashville explosion

Footage shows damage at the scene of an explosion in Nashville on Christmas Day. Police believe the explosion was intentional.

Posted: Dec 25, 2020 10:00 PM


Betsy Williams recalls being awoken just after 4:30 a.m. Friday by what sounded like gunfire from an automatic weapon.

After Williams called 911 and police cordoned off Second Avenue in downtown Nashville, a "computerized message" from a parked RV captured her attention.

"Evacuate now," Williams remembers the female voice saying -- over and over again.

Williams told CNN hours after the vehicle exploded, injuring three, that she and wife Kim clearly heard another message emanating from the RV.

It was a countdown.

"This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes," the countdown said, according to Williams.

Then, "This vehicle will explode in 14 minutes."

The countdown caused Williams and her family to immediately heed the warning and start making their way downstairs from their third-floor apartment.

"When the time started, that's when we went, 'oh sh*t'," she said. "We need to get out of here."

Dressed only in their pajamas, they made their way to their car -- with their cat -- and over the Cumberland River and to Nissan Stadium. There, she says they had a clear view of the area and could see if any explosion would occur.

Thinking they sat there long enough and that it was clearly a hoax, Williams said they made their way back home. As they were driving down Second Avenue before they reached the cordoned-off area, they saw the explosion in front of them, Williams said.

"I've never seen anything like it," she said. "It shook everything."

"We do believe this to have been an intentional act," police spokesman Don Aaron said. "Significant damage has been done to the infrastructure there on 2nd Avenue North."

Another witness described the explosion as being in "the end of times."

Buck McCoy said the windows of his downtown Nashville residence right across from the explosion were blown in and water started pouring from the ceiling.

"I must have an angel because I survived this," he told CNN. "It was pretty horrendous."

McCoy said he was woken up by what he thought were gunshots about 10 minutes before the explosion. He got up and looked out the window, he said, but went back to bed when he didn't see anything.

McCoy says he's thankful that he didn't get anything more than scratches to his face, hands and feet.

"It was like a movie," McCoy said. "It really felt like the end of times."

When he looked outside, trees were down everywhere and broken glass littered the street, he said.

"Everything on the street was fire," he says. "There were three cars that were fully engulfed."

McCoy saw people filing out of their apartment with their animals.

He tried to make his way back to his apartment to look for his cat, but firefighters told him to get as far away from the area as possible.

Williams said that after the explosion they could see the back of their building.

"It was loaded with glass and shards and big pieces of wood and metal where everything had fallen," she said.

Laughing at the irony, Williams remembers saying on Christmas Eve that she wanted to "spend all day Christmas in my pajamas."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
Deschutes19577123
Umatilla14241144
Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
Josephine9233195
Yamhill8517110
Klamath7709110
Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4810682

Reported Deaths: 70604
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147569426398
Riverside3693444990
San Diego3641044163
San Bernardino3563155566
Orange3227415518
Sacramento1576212279
Santa Clara1445181890
Kern1441461605
Fresno1441232051
Alameda1198871374
San Joaquin1018071708
Ventura1005241164
Contra Costa99234982
Stanislaus851571315
Tulare78945951
San Francisco54031645
San Mateo53828622
Monterey50696582
Solano45761334
Santa Barbara44836521
Merced41781577
Sonoma40711402
Placer38902415
Imperial35642764
Kings32369314
San Luis Obispo29653329
Madera23518281
Butte23364260
Shasta23360334
Santa Cruz20861218
Yolo20147247
Marin17581243
El Dorado16960149
Sutter13775169
Napa12808100
Yuba994282
Tehama9298104
Humboldt9102108
Nevada903990
Mendocino752786
Lassen746346
San Benito737372
Tuolumne673993
Lake6506104
Amador537264
Siskiyou442742
Glenn430330
Calaveras381780
Del Norte356141
Colusa301718
Inyo196739
Mono16445
Plumas15756
Mariposa127315
Trinity86011
Modoc6698
Unassigned1860
Sierra1760
Alpine1020
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 57°
Brookings
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 46°
Crater Lake
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 57°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 57°
Klamath Falls
Mostly Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 58°
Rain and snow continues overnight, partially drying out Monday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events