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Two-year-old-boy ripped from mother’s arms in Tennessee floods and found by search team identified


DNA testing results have confirmed that Kellen Cole Burrow, two, was the toddler whose remains were found by a search team Tuesday while combing the wreckage of last weekend’s devastating flood in Tennessee

Kellen was ripped from his mother’s arms by the floodwaters and his grandfather, Chris Hixson, has told DailyMail.com that his body is being transported from the hospital to Taylor Funeral Home in Dickson.  

The toddler’s family was summoned to Three Rivers Hospital in Waverly after the his body was found early Tuesday morning and were told by staff that it would take a couple of hours to confirm his identity through DNA testing. 

At least 22 are dead with 51 still missing in the aftermath of the flash floods, which came after 17 inches of rain fell over parts of Tennessee in a 24-hour period Saturday, breaking the state’s previous single-day record of 9.45 inches in 2010, according to the National Weather Service Nashville. 

The family was surprised by the deluge and the boy’s mother, Brittney LeAnn McCord, grabbed onto the clothes line and held onto her five children outside their family’s apartment as the waters rose. Moments later the powerful surge pulled Kellen from her arms, the Tennessean reported.

A DailyMail.com reporter was on the scene when Hixson received the news about his grandson around 1pm Tuesday as he searched for the child’s body along the banks of a creek in downtown Waverly. He was just a few miles from where twin babies drowned on Saturday.

‘They got him,’ Hixson cried, as he looked down at his phone. 

‘I need to get hold of my wife and daughter,’ he said. 

He drove about a mile to the hospital, where he said to a nurse: ‘We was told they might have found a body – a young child’s body.’ 

A doctor told Hixson: ‘There’s a toddler found – we want to confirm if it’s him. Through DNA.’

Then Hixson drove to a nearby church to wait for results with his wife and children, who were loading supplies into trucks to help with recovery efforts.

Kellen Cole Burrow (pictured) was reported missing after he was swept away from a Waverly apartment complex by the floodwaters

Two-year-old Kellen Cole Burrow was swept from his mother’s arms during Saturday’s catastrophic flooding in Tennessee that has killed at least 21. DNA testing has revealed the body of the recovered toddler is his

Kellen Cole Burrow (pictured far-right) in the arms of his mother Brittney LeAnn McCord (second from right) alongside his step-father Kalaub McCord (second from left) and their other four children

Kellen Cole Burrow (pictured far-right) in the arms of his mother Brittney LeAnn McCord (second from right) alongside his step-father Kalaub McCord (second from left) and their other four children

Kalaub McCord, Kellen's stepfather, recalled the last time he saw the toddler, before he headed to a nearby emergency room for treatment for a painful sinus infection

Kalaub McCord, Kellen’s stepfather, recalled the last time he saw the toddler, before he headed to a nearby emergency room for treatment for a painful sinus infection 

Allen Burrow, Kellen’s maternal grandfather, was hoping for closure as he waited outside the hospital with his daughter Brittany McCord, Kellen’s mom, waiting for the DNA results.

‘If he could be found alive, it would be better, but this (confirmation) would bring us some closure,’ he said. ‘I get strength from the Good Lord. I break down, but not in front of her,’ referring to his daughter.

He described his daughter’s heroic efforts to save her four children who were with her Saturday when the water came flooding into her home.

‘She gathered them up in the corner bedroom, and got them all out the window as the current got higher and higher,’ he said.

She then climbed out and tried to hold onto her children on the back porch, before the water swept Kellen away.

‘She grade him yelling ‘mommy, mommy’ and all she could do was watch because she had her hands on her other kids.’

A home that was destroyed by flooding in downtown Waverly, Tennessee, near the Trace Creek is pictured after Sunday's flooding

A home that was destroyed by flooding in downtown Waverly, Tennessee, near the Trace Creek is pictured after Sunday’s flooding

Inside the home that was destroyed by flooding in downtown Waverly, Tennessee, near the Trace Creek is pictured after Sunday's flooding

Heartbreaking stories are emerging in the flood's aftermath

Inside the home that was destroyed by flooding in downtown Waverly, Tennessee, near the Trace Creek is pictured after Sunday’s flooding

The boy’s father, who was at a doctor’s appointment at the time, found a boat and used two shovels to paddle it in an effort to rescue Kellen.

‘He couldn’t make it to him, but he saved four to five people in his effort to get to him,’ the grandfather said.

That night, Kellen’s mother called her dad with the tragic news.

‘I lost my baby,’ she cried.

The boy’s stepfather, Kalaub McCord, was away that night seeking treatment for a sinus infection at a nearby emergency room before the roads became clogged with floodwater.

‘I seen him that night when we put him to bed, but she had him in her arms whenever he got swept away,’ he told Fox 17

It took McCord five hours to return to his family home. He helped others along the way, including two elderly women who couldn’t swim, but he was unable to return to his wife and children in time. 

‘I couldn’t get back to him, but she managed to save our other four children. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have any children right now,’ McCord said, referring to his wife.   

Amy Ladd, 43, (pictured) was looking for friend Lilly Bryant, 15, today. The girl was last seen holding onto a dresser in the floodwaters

Amy Ladd, 43, searched the Trace Creek today for the body of 15-year-old Lilly Bryant

Amy Ladd, 43, (pictured) was looking for friend Lilly Bryant, 15, today. The girl was last seen holding onto a dresser in the floodwaters

Cheyanna Bryant trawled the Trace Creek today with her family and friends in search of the body of her 15-year-old sister Lilly Bryant

Cheyanna Bryant trawled the Trace Creek today with her family and friends in search of the body of her 15-year-old sister Lilly Bryant

Lilly Bryant, 15, (pictured) was last seen clutching a dresser in the floodwaters. She was poised to start her freshman year of high school

Lilly Bryant, 15, (pictured) was last seen clutching a dresser in the floodwaters. She was poised to start her freshman year of high school

Saturday's floodwaters in Tennessee swept away homes, vehicles and rural roads in Waverly, Tennessee (pictured)

Cheyanna Bryant and her boyfriend, 20-year-old DJ Booze, search for the body of 15-year-old Lilly Bryant

Saturday’s floodwaters in Tennessee swept away homes, vehicles and rural roads in Waverly, Tennessee (pictured)

At least 4,200 people across the state have lost power, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency

At least 4,200 people across the state have lost power, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency

As of Tuesday afternoon at least 22 people were confirmed dead, and 50 remained missing as a result of the flooding, according to the New York Times

As of Tuesday afternoon at least 22 people were confirmed dead, and 50 remained missing as a result of the flooding, according to the New York Times

Rains in Humphreys County Saturday shattered the previous single-day record of 9.45 inches in 2010

Rains in Humphreys County Saturday shattered the previous single-day record of 9.45 inches in 2010

 Fifteen-year-old Lilly Bryant, who had just started her freshman year of high school, is among those still missing.  

‘Loved everybody, loved to make people laugh,’ family friend Chelsea Simons told Fox 17. ‘There’s not another one like her.’  

‘If we don’t find her tonight, we’ll be right back here in the morning as soon as daylight breaks to continue,’ Simons told the station Sunday. ‘We’re not gonna stop until we find their baby.’

The Humphreys County town of McEwen was hit with the worst of the flooding, which washed away homes and rural roads.

‘Our people need help,’ Humphreys County Sheriff Davis said at a Monday afternoon news conference, the New York Times reported. ‘We are going to be overwhelmed for the next 30 days at least — overwhelmed.’ 

He said damage from the flooding stretched up to 10 miles. 

Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said Monday afternoon that emergency workers there would be overwhelmed for at least 30 days in the aftermath of the flooding

Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis said Monday afternoon that emergency workers there would be overwhelmed for at least 30 days in the aftermath of the flooding 

The Nashville Fire Department posts aerial photos of massive flooding in Tennessee after heavy rainfall that led to severe flooding

The Nashville Fire Department posts aerial photos of massive flooding in Tennessee after heavy rainfall that led to severe flooding

Damage from the violent floodwaters is believed to extend out at least 10 miles in Humpreys County

Damage from the violent floodwaters is believed to extend out at least 10 miles in Humpreys County  

Additionally, more than 4,200 homes in the state remained without power as of Tuesday, according to the New York Times.  

Among those whose confirmed deaths, seven-month-old twins Ryan and Rieligh Rigney, of Waverly, were pulled away from their father in a deluge when floodwaters swept through their apartment complex, NewsChannel5 reported.   

Angie Cason, the twins’ grandmother, told the station how the twins were at home with their mother, father, and their five-year-old and 19-month-old siblings, when water smashed through their home on Saturday morning.  

Swept away in the waters were seven-months-old twins Ryan and Rileigh Rigney (pictured) whose bodies were recovered by authorities after they were pulled from their father

Swept away in the waters were seven-months-old twins Ryan and Rileigh Rigney (pictured) whose bodies were recovered by authorities after they were pulled from their father

The mother of the four children was swept away in the torrent but managed to make it to safety, while their father grabbed the twins and their two siblings.    

But despite his best efforts, the twins were torn from his arms, went under the water and disappeared, their grandmother said. 

Their bodies were recovered by rescue workers later on Saturday, Humphreys County Sheriff said.

Also killed in the flood was Wayne Spears, the ranch foreman for country singer Loretta Lynn.

He was seen with his arms around the beam at Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on Saturday after being caught by rapidly rising floodwaters while checking on the ranch’s animals.

Tragically, Spears died after the structure he was clinging to washed away moments later, according to local news site the Tennessee Holler

'Loved everybody, loved to make people laugh,' family friend Chelsea Simons told Fox 17 of Lilly Bryant, 15, whose body was sought out by friends and family today. 'There¿s not another one like her.'

‘Loved everybody, loved to make people laugh,’ family friend Chelsea Simons told Fox 17 of Lilly Bryant, 15, whose body was sought out by friends and family today. ‘There’s not another one like her.’

The flash floods came after 17 inches of rain fell over parts of Tennessee in a 24-hour period Saturday, which smashed the state's previous single-day record of 9.45 inches in 2010, according to the National Weather Service Nashville

The flash floods came after 17 inches of rain fell over parts of Tennessee in a 24-hour period Saturday, which smashed the state’s previous single-day record of 9.45 inches in 2010, according to the National Weather Service Nashville

Debris littered the Trace Creek in Waverly today (pictured)

Debris littered the Trace Creek in Waverly today (pictured)

A car swept away in Tennessee's devastating flood this weekend was seen floating along the Trace Creek today

A car swept away in Tennessee’s devastating flood this weekend was seen floating along the Trace Creek today

A stack of vehicles were strewn alongside the Trace Creek in Waverly today as search parties sought out the bodies of those who are missing after this weekend's damaging floods

A stack of vehicles were strewn alongside the Trace Creek in Waverly today as search parties sought out the bodies of those who are missing after this weekend’s damaging floods

Heartbreaking stories are emerging from the flooding that overtook Tennessee this weekend. Pictured is a backyard near Waverly's Blue Creek

Heartbreaking stories are emerging from the flooding that overtook Tennessee this weekend. Pictured is a backyard near Waverly’s Blue Creek

Norman Curtis, 72, (pictured) sits along the Blue Creek after losing his home in the flooding

Norman Curtis, 72, (pictured) sits along the Blue Creek after losing his home in the flooding

Damage from the flooding stretched for 10 miles, Humphrey County Sheriff Davis told news outlets

Damage from the flooding stretched for 10 miles, Humphrey County Sheriff Davis told news outlets

This distressing photo shows Loretta Lynn's ranch foreman Wayne Spears moments before he was swept to his death during a flood that hit the singer's property in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on Saturday

This distressing photo shows Loretta Lynn’s ranch foreman Wayne Spears moments before he was swept to his death during a flood that hit the singer’s property in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on Saturday 

Wayne Spears and Loretta Lynn

Wayne Spears tribute photo

County star Lynn, pictured left with Spears, was unharmed by the floods, but paid a touching tribute to her ‘irreplaceable’ rancher in a Facebook post announcing his death Sunday 

‘He’s out at his barn and next thing you know, he goes from checking animals in the barn to hanging on in the barn to people seeing him floating down the creek. And that´s how fast it had come up,’ Humphrey’s County Sheriff Chris Davis said.

‘Wayne´s just one of those guys, he just does everything for everybody, if there´s a job to do,’ said his friend Michael Pate, who met Spears at the ranch 15 years ago. 

Lynn herself is safe from the floods, which were the worst ever to have swept through her ranch. She shared a tribute to Spears Sunday, writing: ‘With the heaviest of hearts we are saddened to report that our beloved foreman Wayne Spears did not survive being swept up in the flood waters. Wayne has been a family friend to the Lynns and a fixture to the Ranch for decades and we are all devastated by his passing.

‘The Ranch will never be the same without him but he will always be remembered for his ready smile, kind heart, and willingness to go the extra mile for everyone around him.





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