Mt. Juliet family RV swept away in flood water at Piney River Resort

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BON AQUA, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Mt. Juliet family camping at an RV Park in Bon Aqua says they’re grateful to be alive after their RV was swept away by swift flood water.

Jared Jakalski told News 2 his family often goes camping at the Piney River Resort in Hickman County.

“I have two teenage boys that both invited two friends a piece. We let them do this every year. It’s just a big family friend campout where we enjoy kayaking and being outdoors,” said Jakalski.

The group arrived to the RV park on Friday night and were woken to a flash flooding notification on their phones around 6:15 a.m. Saturday.

“I looked out the window of the RV and there was a couple of inches of water where we were camped out. Within minutes, that couple of inches turned into a couple of feet. We collected our boys, our dogs. We had three dogs, six boys and two adults with us,” said Jakalski.  

Jakalski and his family then linked arms as the water became waist-deep. They were able to get to their vehicle safely and drove to higher ground.

“There was no time to think. We just came together, and I am responsible for four other children that are not ours. That was my biggest priority, get everyone safe to high ground,” said Jakalski.

After reaching higher ground, Jakalski said he turned around to check on their RV.

“It was too late. The hitch was submerged under water. We watched it rise very rapidly as we were watching our camper flood out and start to float away. We heard another family in distress trying to exit the camp ground who got stuck,” explained Jakalski.

Jakalski said a couple and their parents needed help. He and a few others jumped into action, first rescuing the woman stuck in a tree.

“We linked up in chest-high water and trudged over to rescue the woman in the tree. We got her back to shore. We proceeded to try and rescue her parents stranded on top of their vehicle. There was no time to think about anything. In desperation, the couple had two dogs and threw their dogs in a cooler and latched onto that and started swimming,” explained Jakalski.

Jakalski and his sons ran down river and were able to intercept the couple and their dogs in the cooler. They then dragged them to higher ground before moving their vehicle about four more times themselves.

“The water was rising so fast. The resort owners or hosts saw that we had lost everything. They put us in a tiny house they rent out for shelter. Not 15 minutes later, the tiny house began to submerge,” said Jakalski.

His family then parked on the highest ground they could find, running into their own guardian angels.

“We parked there and there were the Johnston’s. We had no idea who these people were. They introduced themselves as Jen and Jason and said come in. I said ‘yeah, I don’t know if you understand we have a small tribe. We have eight people and three dogs. ‘She said ‘well we have four people and two dogs so we’re just going to combine.’ It was amazing. The hospitality they brought us in soaking wet, wet dogs, muddy and crying. We were with them for 12 hours, and it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. I cannot emphasize the gratitude enough for this family taking us in,” said Jakalski.

Courtesy: Jennifer Johnston, Piney River Resort

Jakalski said he later found their camper about two miles away from Piney River.

“It was washed up next to the road. Really, the only reason I recognized it was the wheels and flooring. We saw a couple of our possessions floating around. That was all that was left was the floor and wheels. It’s a total loss of possessions, but those can all be replaced. My main concern was family and friends and getting everyone up and out,” said Jakalski.

Through the original story on News 2, Jakalski was able to contact the Johnston’s, thanking them again for their kindness and generosity in a difficult time.

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