EXCLUSIVE: LMPD officer talks about March 23 tornado

Wall cloud of the tornado-producing storm captured on video (Source: Sergeant Donnie Schraut)
Wall cloud of the tornado-producing storm captured on video (Source: Sergeant Donnie Schraut)
Officer Felipe Hernandez
Officer Felipe Hernandez

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro police officer who warned neighbors of a tornado in the Fern Creek area opens up in an exclusive interview. WAVE 3 also obtained cell phone video of the storm captured by a fellow officer.

Officer Felipe Hernandez was the first officer on scene March 23. Hernandez had just finished a run that Friday afternoon when he noticed something in the distance.

"That's when I realized I have a problem here," said Hernandez. "It was a funnel cloud. Something happened down there. I saw it drop from the sky and pick back up."

Hernandez and a Highview firefighter were the first to arrive on scene.

"That's when we discovered there was nobody in this house," Hernandez said about a home that had been destroyed. "Thank God there wasn't."

The tornado crushed a two-story home and damaged houses throughout the Cedar Brook subdivision. Hernandez then alerted dispatchers of a broken gas line.

Another officer in the 7th Division captured the storm on an iPhone. In the video, a tornado is on the ground underneath a wall cloud. Trees obstruct the view, but officers witnessed the twister and quit filming as the storm, which produced an EF1 tornado, approached.

"In all honesty, this is actually the first time I've been back here," Hernandez said as he visited the site with WAVE 3.

It's also the first time Hernandez has openly talked about the experience. It was also the first time his colleague, Sergeant Donnie Schraut, shared video of the storm as it brewed a tornado in southeastern Jefferson County.

"To know it could touch down so quickly and go back up is unbelievable," Hernandez said.

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