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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