KHOU reported that narcotics K-9 Roni and Nitchman, who have worked together to protect the community for over five years, had completed training and returned to the DPP station when the afternoon sky turned ominously dark.
An EF-3 tornado with gusts between 136 and 165 miles per hour touched down around 2:49 p.m., wreaking havoc, pulling down power lines, and doing significant damage to multiple buildings, especially to a nearby assisted living center.
Officials indicated that around 30 streets were closed as a result of debris thrown about by the tornado.
Despite the destruction, there were no casualties reported. Nitchman helped ensure that outcome.
Roni was still in his kennel in the rear of the squad car when visibility dropped to near-zero and winds began whipping debris, even moving a metal fence, thereby blocking the entrance of the station.
Nitchman, who told KHOU that Roni has “put himself in harm’s way for me before,” knew he had to return the favor, noting, “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.”
The station’s parking lot surveillance camera caught Nitchman bolting to his squad car as lightning streaked the air and nearby trees were thrashed by the high-force winds.
“I knew something was bad when things were hitting my face. I knew it was debris of some kind,” said Nitchman.
The shrapnel, rain, and wind nearly proved insurmountable.
“Once I went around the car, that’s when all heck broke loose,” said the officer. “I could barely open his door.”
When he finally managed to pry the door open, Nitchman had to contend with a less-than-enthused partner.
“He’s a smart dog. He saw what was going on outside and he said I’m not coming out. … I’m, like, coaching him, ‘Come on, buddy. Let’s go,'” recalled Nitchman.
Trusting in his partner, Roni ultimately joined Nitchman. That trust turned out to be well placed.
Both officers pressed through the blistering winds together and were able to find safety inside the station.
“I love that dog. He’s my hip attachment almost every day of the week,” said Nitchman. “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.
Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton spoke to reporters about the tornado, stating, “It’s amazing no one got injured. … I’m just grateful to God that he was able to protect life in here.”
Watch the parking lot rescue:
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