By Sarah Calams
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DEER PARK, Texas — One week ago, a tornado ripped through Deer Park, Texas. Now, an officer is recalling the terrifying moments leading up to the rescue of his four-legged partner in his squad car as wind, rain and debris resulted in zero visibility.
Deer Park Police officer Joel Nitchman and narcotics K-9 Roni have been partners since 2018, KHOU reported. The duo had just returned to their station from training when winds started to violently pick up. Roni was still in his kennel in the squad.
“The thought of debris … or the car flipping over … I couldn’t do that to him. I couldn’t have him out there during that,” Nitchman recalled.
Surveillance video shows Nitchman running outside with lightning flashing, and torrential downpour with powerful winds and debris flying everywhere.
“I knew something was bad when things were hitting my face. I knew it was debris of some kind. Once I went around the car, that’s when all heck broke loose,” Nitchman said. “I could barely open his door. When I did, he’s a smart dog … he saw what was going on outside and he said I’m not coming out.”
Nitchman was finally able to coax Roni out of the squad, but they almost didn’t make it back into the station. The front door was nearly blocked by a fence that had been thrown toward the station, according to the report.
“I love that dog. He’s my hip attachment almost every day of the week. He’s a part of our family. We can’t leave a loved one like that. There’s no way I was going to leave him like that,” Nitchman said. “I’m so grateful he’s OK.”