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Small comfort: Two friends die in each other's arms at destroyed Oklahoma school

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Antonia Lee Candelaria and Emily Conatzer, both nine years old, died when the Oklahoma tornado knocked down the Plaza Towers Elementary School. Inseparable in life, they died in each other's arms. "There were little marks, imprints and tiny scratch on her forearm like someone had been holding onto her, clinging to her," weeping mother Brandie Candelaria says.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We take comfort in thinking that she and Emily were holding onto each other and not alone," Antonia's mom says.

The two third-grade girls were among the seven children killed when the school collapsed them when the tornado tore through the city of Moore this week, drowning in a pool. Twenty-four people were killed in the tornado.

Antonia was the middle of three girls. Her baby sister Lillian is just four months old. Her big sister Trinity is 10 and was pulled out of the rubble of the school by her father, Jimmy Rosson.

"Jimmy brought Trinity back to me and wanted to go and carry on searching for Antonia but when he went back they stopped them digging," Antonia's mother says. "They stayed looking as long as they could but they couldn't get to them - they couldn't get to my little ladybug or Emily.

"That's what she was ... my little ladybug."

Emily was big sister to Luci, who was rescued from the wreckage "a little bit banged up but otherwise fine," Brandie Candelaria added.

"We're overwhelmed right now," Antonia's 50-year-old grandmother Cindy says. "We're trying to make arrangements. . The house is one of the last standing and we're trying to get our stuff out."

Antonia's name was among those released Wednesday by the Oklahoma medical examiner. Others included Hemant Bhonde, 65; Kyle Davis, 8; Sydney Angle, 9; Megan Futrell, 29; and Case Futrell, 4 months old. The Futrells were mother and son. Ages were not provided for the other identified victims, Cindy Plumley, Deanna Ward and Tawauna Robinson.

Hemant Bhonde's wife said she and her husband had fled into a bathroom to ride out the storm and were holding onto each other in shower when he and "the house totally disappeared."

"Walls were hitting me," Jerrie Bhonde told reporters from her hospital bed. "I was knocked on the floor. I looked around for my husband. I couldn't find him."

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