By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
SMITHVILLE – Police Chief Darwin Hathcock was speechless Saturday at the sight of 250 motorcyclists rolling into his town.
The riders, many of them fellow law enforcement officers, started their ride in Tupelo, cruised around the region and wound up at the tornado-ravaged town to deliver a donation to Smithville Police Department.
“Now that’s a thank you,” said Tupelo Police Officer Brett Moyer as Hathcock struggled to find those two words but couldn’t. “This is why we do this. This makes us feel good to be able to help one of our own in their time of need.”
Moyer, a member of the Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, Dixie Thunder Chapter, spearheaded the rally to raise money for the Smithville Police Department. He, along with other officers from around the state, witnessed firsthand the devastation the April 27 tornado caused when they assisted in search and recovery missions.
“I just wanted to find a way to help these people and this department after that storm,” said Moyer. “And these 250 riders is what came out of that. It took all of these people to make this happen.”
The police department, along with 80 percent of the town, was destroyed by an EF-5 tornado. Sixteen people in the town died in the storm. All but one of the department’s four police cars were destroyed.
The group of riders didn’t just pull up in Smithville with smiles and handshakes – they brought in $7,668.60. Also, Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton had a special donation: Smithville now has a new squad car equipped with a new engine and wrapped in a black and white Smithville Police Department logo.
“This all is just overwhelming for me,” said Hathcock. “Since the tornado hit everyone has been here to help us. I know I can probably never repay all the people who have helped us, but I swear if they ever need us we will be there no questions asked.”