4-month-old baby survives deadly tornado nestled in tree 'like a cradle'

The infant's home was destroyed by a deadly tornado in Tennessee.

December 15, 2023, 3:30 PM

Sydney Moore had just put her two young sons down for an afternoon nap when a deadly tornado tore through her hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee, over the weekend.

Moore, 22, said she and her fiance Aramis Youngblood were standing in the living room of their mobile home when they heard a huge sound that she described as like an airplane flying directly over them.

Moore said she and Youngblood went into "fight or flight mode" to save their sons Lord, 4 months, who was sleeping in a bassinet near the front of the home, and Princeton, 1, who was asleep in a bedroom in the back of the home.

"As soon as I jumped on top of Princeton, the back bedroom, the walls collapsed," Moore told "Good Morning America," adding, "I remember me and Princeton got thrown onto the ground and then we got picked up and thrown down again, but he never left my arms. And somehow, someway, I still had his pacifier clenched in my hands."

Sydney Moore, 22, is pictured with her sons, Princeton and Lord.
Sydney Moore

While Moore protected her eldest son, she said Youngblood ran to the front of the house to grab Lord. As the tornado passed through, both of them were swept away, according to Moore.

"In the front bedroom, Aramis was in there with Lord, and the roof came off and swept them up," she said. "The bassinet was the first thing to go."

When the tornado passed, Moore said she and Youngblood were able to call out and hear each other, but they couldn't see each other and couldn't find Lord.

"I remember the first question I asked [Youngblood] was, 'Where's my baby?'" she said. "And he said he didn't know."

In this screen grab taken from a video, a tornado is shown in Clarksville, Tenn., on Dec. 9, 2023.
Bram Craig

As Moore worked to free herself and Princeton from the debris, Youngblood, who was injured when he was thrown by the tornado, searched for their youngest son.

After a 10-minute search, Youngblood found Lord nestled safely in a tree, around 25 feet away, according to Moore.

"It was just like he was placed in a tree, like a little tree cradle for a baby," Moore said. "It was like a cubby hole in a tree, at the bottom."

Sydney Moore’s 4-month-old son Lord survived a tornado that decimated the family’s home in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Sydney Moore

Moore said she felt like she was watching a movie when she saw Youngblood carrying Lord back to her through the devastation from the tornado, which killed three people and injured nearly two dozen others, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

"I saw him walking through the woods, carrying Lord in the pouring down rain, and all of his clothes were ripped," Moore said of Youngblood. "It was like a scene in a movie."

While Moore and Princeton suffered minor injuries in the tornado, including scratches and bruises on their bodies, Youngblood suffered a dislocated collarbone, according to Moore.

Sydney Moore’s 1-year-old son Princeton survived a tornado that decimated the family’s home in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Sydney Moore

Lord suffered a cut on his face that required medical intervention, according to Moore.

She said that while the infant has since recovered, she thought in the moment that he would not survive.

"I remember thinking that Lord wasn't OK, because there was blood coming from his ear," Moore said. "I thought, 'Oh my god, my baby is not going to make it."

Clarksville Fire Rescue Lt. Steven Bryant was one of the first responders who assisted Moore and her family after she walked more than a mile to find help.

"It was chaos," Bryant told "GMA," adding of the area where he found Moore, "It looked like a bomb went off. It looked like it had been in a war zone."

Bryant said he heard a commotion and then saw a female police officer running towards him with Lord, who he said was bleeding but alert.

"She came running to me and gave me the baby and I could hear the baby crying so I thought, that’s good," Bryant said. "Luckily, he didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries, which was pretty much a miracle."

Moore said that after the initial shock subsided, the devastation left behind by the storm hit her hard.

"Everything from the trailer is gone," Moore said. "My bathtub is, like, almost a mile away. My roof is at the top of the trailer park."

Moore said that in addition to losing her family's home and all their belongings, many of the landmarks in her hometown of Clarksville are gone, including her own childhood home.

Moore and her fiance are temporarily staying in a hotel room, while their two children are staying nearby with Moore's cousin, who is better able to accommodate them.

Sydney Moore said the trailer she shared with her partner and their two children was destroyed by a tornado in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Sydney Moore

The family has had to rely on donated clothes and baby supplies while they search for a new home to rent, a task that has been challenging, according to Moore, given how hard the entire community was hit by the storm.

"We're really trying to find a place for kids at this point. We worked so hard for stability for them," Moore said. "Me and Aramis came from nothing and everything we have, we've worked really, really hard for. Even if it was a '60s trailer, that was our home and we made it a home for our kids."

A GoFundMe account started by Moore's sister has so far raised over $50,000 to help the family rebuild, donations for which Moore said she is deeply grateful.

"I’m glad everyone is helping," she said. "I really didn’t expect that, and really appreciate it."

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