Family caught in landslide thankful to be alive

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A New Jersey family’s vacation quickly took a dark turn as they drove along I-24 in Whites Creek and got caught in the middle of a massive landslide.

“Our destination for the night was Nashville so we wanted to get up the next day and spend the day there,” explains Kaitlin, who was traveling through Nashville with her husband, two kids and their family dog after a trip out West.

What was supposed to be a final stop after visiting six states quickly turned dangerous around 10 p.m. on Feb. 23.

“911, what is the address of your emergency?” the 911 operator asked. 

“Umm, I don’t know, I don’t know what route I’m on, but a tree just fell in front of our car on the highway,” Kaitlin told the dispatcher. 

Kaitlin and her family were driving on I-24 in Whites Creek heading eastbound when her husband spotted a shadow signaling a landslide to come.

“He was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a tree,’ and I looked up and next thing you know, it was on top in front of our car,”  Kaitlin told News 2’s Linda Ong. “And thankfully, he was able to slam on the brakes and saw it right before it hit.”

Looking back, Kaitlin said her husband’s quick actions likely saved her family from serious injury.

“The hood flew up and hit the windshield which I think really helped us out because nothing was able to actually come in the car, and thankfully, we all walked away,” Kaitlin said.

However, the van they customized by hand and called home for the past two months was destroyed.

“At first, it was pretty devastating, but I kept reminding my husband that we’re all safe and that’s all that matters,” she said.

Kaitlin said that feeling amplified as the family passed not one, but two accidents just miles down from the landslide in Nashville. 

“We were kind of just like, you know, ‘we’re so thankful that wasn’t us,’ and then all of the sudden, it was us, too,” she said.

Kaitlin said even though they may not be able to salvage much of their family van, they’ll rebuild if they have to and look forward to their next adventure.

“We still had the incredible trip that we had together as a family,” she said. “We’re thankful that we’re still here and live life to its fullest because you never know what can happen.”

The mudslide has closed the roadway until at least mid-March as crews clean up and take steps to prevent future issues in the immediate area. Stay with News 2 for updates. 

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