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Twin babies Ryan and Rileigh Rigney swept off dad's arms die

'Things are moving fast, and we are finding people left and right,' said Chief Deputy Rob Edwards about the casualties
UPDATED AUG 23, 2021
Ryan and Rileigh Rigney died tragically in the flash floods on August 21 (Twitter/Loretta Lynn, Facebook/Danielle Rigney)
Ryan and Rileigh Rigney died tragically in the flash floods on August 21 (Twitter/Loretta Lynn, Facebook/Danielle Rigney)

As flash floods wreaked havoc across the state of Tennessee, at least 22 people have been reported dead and more than 12 are still missing. Speaking to New York Times about the unprecedented calamity, Humphreys County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rob Edwards said, "Things are moving fast, and we are finding people left and right." Perhaps the most heartbreaking casualties of the flash floods were the death of Ryan and Rileigh Rigney, two 7-month old twin babies who were swept away from their father. 

Among other victims, country singer Loretta Lynn's ranch foreman Wayne Spears died tragically, while clinging onto a beam amid rising floodwaters. "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," revealed Sheriff Chris Davis. A video of his death has surfaced on the internet which shows his distressing final moments. 


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Who were Ryan and Rileigh Rigney?

Ryan and Rileigh were the youngest children of Nashville couple Danielle and Matt Rigney. They also have two older kids, who have survived the flash floods. 

The tragic deaths of the twins took place on Saturday, August 21, as floodwater from heavy rains inundated their apartment complex. According to their grandmother Angie Cason, the family of seven was together when the flash floods hit their residence suddenly. Mother Danielle Rigney was being swept away at first but somehow managed to survive in the end. 

Meanwhile, Matt Rigney had held on to all four of his kids. He was trying to get them to safety when the force of the water swept the twins away from their father's arms. Later, their bodies were recovered by first responders at the scene. 

Their death was mourned by family relative Caitlin Michelle Kinslow on Facebook, who wrote, "Y'all please keep my family in your prayers.. Matt Rigney & Danielle Rigney I'm so sorry. You know we are here for y'all if y'all need anything, just call me or my mama. Ryan & Rileigh rest in peace sweet angels. You were taken from this earth way too soon. Watch over your mama & daddy as they find the strength to get through every day. You two are so loved.
Also if there is anyone in Waverly let me know ASAP, we're needing information on the roads and how far we can get into Waverly to get to the hospital."


Meanwhile, eyewitness and survivor Kansas Klein from Waverly revealed how he saw two young girls along with their puppy desperately clinging onto a wooden board as the waters swept them away. 

Sheriff Chris Davis himself nearly broke down during the press conference while mourning the loss of one of his best friends in the flash floods. 

Around 50 soldiers from Tennessee's National Guard were deployed to facilitate the rescue operations