Sergeant Oliver Deward Williamson

Sergeant Oliver Deward Williamson

Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee

End of Watch Friday, March 21, 1952

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Oliver Deward Williamson

Sergeant Oliver Williamson was killed outside of Dyersburg, Tennessee while assisting with search and recovery efforts following a tornado that occurred near Rehoboth.

He had just dropped off several patients at the hospital in Dyersburg and was returning to Rehoboth when his patrol car was caught in a second tornado. The patrol car was thrown over 300 feet, causing Sergeant Williamson to suffer fatal injuries.

Sergeant Williamson served with the Tennessee Highway Patrol for eight years and was survived by his wife.


  • Age 49
  • Tour 8 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Weather/Natural disaster

natural disaster

Most Recent Reflection

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My father, Harry E Craig, witnessed the tornado that took the life of Sergeant Oliver Williamson in 1952. My father was called in to work eastern Dyer County roads to help access and clear downed trees and power lines that night, he said at least 6 tornadoes had touched down in Dyer, Gibson, and Crockett counties. After dark, dispatch instructed my father and his partner (I don't recall partners name) to rendezvous with Sergeant Williamson and proceed to clear downed lines east of Dyersberg. On a pitch black rural road in driving rain they made radio contact and agreed to turn on the flashing lights in each car to find each other. Just as my father radioed Sergeant Williamson that he spotted his car on the crest of the hill up the road the radio filled with static which is a sign of a nearby tornado. Dad's partner saw the tornado approaching the road from the east side only because lightning illuminated it in the darkness. It was right upon the road and gigantic, they had to look up to see it tower a thousand feet into the cloud base. My dad radioed a warning to the other car but he thinks static drowned it out and believes Sergeant Williamson never even saw the monster until it was too late - he drove right down into it. My father and partner got out of their car and lay face down into a roadside ditch as the tornado crossed the road. Their car was spun around 180 degrees and slid 20 yards along the road but remained upright facing the wrong way, and most of the water in the roadside ditch was blown out into the woods. The roar was deafening. After the tornado passed they called dispatch for rescue, and they spotted the flashing lights of Sergeant Williamson's car a hundred yards to the west of the road. It took 20 minutes to work their way through the tangle of uprooted trees to reach the car, which was lying on its side, lights on and radio traffic audible through open windows. My dad said the radio microphone wire exited the drivers window, wrapped around the roof and reentered the passenger window, indicating the car had rolled. Sadly, Sergeant Williamson's body was finally discovered about 20 yards from the car. Word of the tragedy spread quickly, and the entire troop was devastated by the loss of one of their own, especially in the line of duty assisting other victims by transporting them to medical care. My dad did not know Sergeant Williamson but his loss had a big impact on him. I have no other details - my father moved to Arizona in 1961 and died in 2005.

Trooper Harry Eugene Craig
I am the son of Patrolman Harry E Craig

August 22, 2022

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