Nashville cops describe RV explosion in can’t-miss presser: ‘I literally heard God tell me to turn around’

A Metropolitan Nashville Police Department officer just feet away from a RV vehicle when it exploded is crediting God for being alive.

Speaking at a news conference Sunday, where six Nashville police officers were being recognized for their heroic actions to evacuate residents before the massive explosion, Officer James Wells recounted the seconds leading up to that terrifying moment.


Wells and Officer Amanda Topping were near the end of their shifts early Christmas morning when they responded to call for backup at a possible shooting, according to NBC News. When they arrived downtown, audio could be heard coming from the RV saying a bomb was inside and that anyone listening should evacuate the area.

And this is when Wells said God “literally” spoke to him and saved his life, as he made the split-second decision to walk away from the RV he was approaching right before it exploded.


“This might not be politically correct, but this is my truth,” Wells said. “I literally heard God tell me to turn around and go check on Topping, who was by herself down on Broadway.”

Struggling to contain his emotions, the officer said it seemed like he only took three steps “and then the music stopped” — the RV was playing the song “Downtown” by Petula Clark.

“As I’m walking back towards Topping now, I can see orange and then I hear a loud boom, and as I’m stumbling — because it rocked me that hard, I started stumbling — I just told myself to stay on your feet, stay alive,” Wells said.

“I just take out in a full-out sprint and I’m running toward Topping to make sure she’s okay,” he added.

Officer Topping was watching the road from her patrol vehicle and she said this made her antsy, NBC News reported. She began moving toward a group of officers coming out of a building they had just evacuated, changing course when she saw Wells by the RV.

Topping said Sunday that as she walked toward Wells she suddenly saw “the biggest flames” she had seen in her life.

As the officer described the harrowing experience and how close Wells was to the explosion, he lost his composure completely.

“I just saw orange and him, and I saw him stumble,” Topping said, as her emotions welled up. “I felt the heat and the [shock] wave, I don’t know how I kept my footing, but I kind of blinked and I couldn’t see him for a second. I just lost it, and I just took off in a sprint towards him.”

“And, like he said, I’ve never grabbed somebody so hard in my life,” she said. “We just ducked into a doorway because we didn’t know what was coming afterwards.

Both officers described the scene as “strange,” and Topping suggested it was almost like a movie scene.

“I’ll never forget the windows shattering after the blast all around me,” she said. “It kind of looked like a big prop from a movie scene, all the glass breaking at once.”

As for the divine intervention, Officer Wells stood by the assertion.

“I’m not going to shy away from that, because that’s what saved my life,” Wells said. “That’s what got me to see my kids and my wife on Christmas. And ‘good to see you’ has a completely different meaning for me now.”


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