9-Year-Old Tornado Victims Found Together Were Best Friends to the End

Two elementary school children were best friends in life, each the other's greatest comfort, and in death, it was no different. The two 9-year-old girls perished together in Plaza Towers, one of the schools razed by the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. The girls were "inseparable" in life, and at the end, it appears they clung to each other. Says the mom of one of the girls: "We take some comfort in thinking that she and Emily were holding onto each other and not alone."

The girls died in the basement of the school, where seven children reportedly drowned after seeking shelter there, only to have it fill up with water, apparently from leaking pipes. (Reports differ as to how the children died.) Brandie Candelaria, mom of Antonia Lee Candelaria, says that Antonia and her best friend, Emily Conatzer, died hand in hand as the school was torn apart around them.

There is scant comfort in your child dying, but Brandie is soothed by the idea that the two girls, who'd been best friends since they began living in the same neighborhood a year ago, died together. She says:

I went to see my little girl yesterday at the Chief Medical Examiner’s office. There were little marks, imprints, and tiny scratches on her forearm like someone had been holding onto her, clinging to her.

Brandie calls Antonia her "little ladybug" and says:

She had such a beautiful innocence about her, such a whole different way of looking at things. You’d think 'How in the world did she come up with that?' Then you’d think about it and it would make a kind of sense.

The pain of losing a child has to be one of the most excruciating in the world. Knowing that at least her daughter had her best friend there in her final moments is something this family can cling to to bring just a tiny fraction of relief to their devastation. Antonia's uncle wrote on Facebook:

They found her this morning holding her best friends hand. They went to heaven together so they didn't have to be alone.

Just thinking about Antonia and Emily in heaven, scampering about with their hands clasped tight together, chasing ladybugs and angels, is terribly sad -- and beautiful.

Can you imagine what these parents are going through? Do you think this brings them comfort?

Image via AFS-USA Intercultural Programs/Flickr

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LostS... LostSoul88

I don't wan to imagine what these parents are going through.  Nothing I can think of would come close to what it really feels like. I hope knowing that their daughters were together at the time helps them.

cmjaz cmjaz

When I was watching the news and found out about the 7 children, I felt horrible for the parents. I also feel horrible for the rescue workers. I can't imagine having to retrieve their bodies. Just awful

foxyj... foxyjean03

This story just brought tears to my eyes.  God Bless their families and everyone else affected.  I can't imagine what the parents are feeling.

LoveM... LoveMyViolet

This is indeed sad....

But please get facts straight. The children did not drown. This was originally reported by NBC yesterday, it has been corrected. I wish the writers on here would research more than one source before posting a story.

nonmember avatar SarahJane

What a sad story, poor little girls. Tons of sympathy to their families.

CrazyAZ CrazyAZ

I can't think about this without crying. My beautiful girl is 9 and I just photographed her and her little girlfriend walking down the sidewalk holding hands. I couldn't imagine losing them. This is so painful for me and I am so far away from the actual situation.

RIP little angels.

Deborah Kolwyck

I would hope the parents would find comfort in their children being together and not alone. My deceased husband begged me to bring him hose to die, he did not want to be in the hospital. His brother and sister were there with us and he left me with my arms around him. It was comforting to me to hold him as he went to be with GOD.

nonmember avatar NoWay

It's a horrible tragedy, but it is comforting to know that the girls were together and didn't die alone. I have children around their age and I can't even begin to imagine the pain these parents are feeling.

jessi... jessicasmom1

such a sad stoy .,, but hopefully the parents get comfort that the children are together  peacefully 

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