North Carolina Man Last Seen Waiting for a Ride Before Tornado Ripped Through Tennessee Is Reported Missing

A North Carolina man who was last seen waiting for a ride before a tornado ripped through the Tennessee town he was in has been reported missing.

Benjamin Charles Fitch, 27, was last seen walking in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee an hour before a tornado hit on Tuesday, the Mt. Juliet Police Department said in a news release.

He had been stopped by a police officer at the time. He told the officer that he was waiting for a ride back to North Carolina.

Mt. Juliet Police added that Fitch's ride had arrived to pick him up, but couldn't find him—and that his family is concerned for his well-being.

"Overnight, we received a report that Benjamin Charles Fitch, of NC, could not be located or heard from," the police department said.

"He was walking in Mt. Juliet 1 hour prior to the tornado, stopped by an officer, and he told the officer he was waiting on a ride back to NC.

"Benjamin's ride arrived in Mt. Juliet to pick him up, but he was not located. He does not own a cell phone, and his family members are concerned about his well-being."

Fitch is described as 5 ft 11 ins, weighing 150 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.

The police department said three people—an elderly couple and a security worker—had died in Mt. Juliet after the tornado ripped through the area.

James Eaton, 84, and Donna Eaton, 81, died in their home on Catalpa Drive, police said, while 38-year-old Brandy Barker was found dead at a warehouse on Athletes Way.

Barker had sought shelter in a bathroom, but she died after a wall collapsed on top of her.

The death toll across Tennessee was at 24 on Wednesday, AP reported, after a number of tornadoes swept across Nashville and other parts of the state in the early hours of Tuesday.

The tornadoes that hit shortly after midnight destroyed more than 140 buildings and moved so quickly that people weren't able to seek shelter in safer places.

"It hit so fast, a lot of folks didn't have time to take shelter," Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter told AP. "Many of these folks were sleeping."

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has declared an emergency and sent in the National Guard to help with search and rescue efforts.

The Mt. Juliet Police Department and Lee's office have been contacted for additional comment.

Nashville tornado
Buildings damaged by the storm are seen in the Germantown neighborhood following devastating tornadoes on March 03, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. Jason Kempin/Getty Images