Melissa and Michael Mooneyhan met as high school students and quickly fell in love. The two were married in 2004, even before they graduated.
More than a decade later, the pair died shielding their young daughter from a tornado as the twister chewed up the family’s mobile home in Nashville, Arkansas, authorities said.
The home looked “like it had exploded,” said Howard County Coroner John Gray, who called the little girl’s survival “a miracle.” Rescuers who found the family believe the couple perished while desperately trying to protect their child.
When search crews lifted a piece of trailer debris, they found the girl squatting between her parents’ bodies, awake and teary.
“I don’t think she had nearly a scratch on her,” said Howard County Emergency Management Coordinator Sonny Raulerson. “There wasn’t enough room for her to even stand up. But she didn’t try to crawl out. I don’t think she wanted to leave her mama.”
The Mooneyhans were among five people killed Sunday after a line of powerful tornadoes battered several small communities in Texas and Arkansas. Three people died in Texas. Scores of others were hurt, some critically.