The Norman Transcript

State/Region

May 23, 2013

Families mourn children lost in tornado

(Continued)

MOORE —

JaNae’s father Joshua rushed toward the Plaza Towers school when he realized the powerful tornado packing speeds up to 200 mph was bearing down on the town. But it took him 30 minutes. The tornado already slammed through the building.

“I was just in panic,” Hornsby said, recalling those minutes when he realized the school had been hit and he hadn’t made it in time.

“I just kept going until I got to the school and when I got to the school I started to look for JaNae,” he said Wednesday, sitting on the small front porch of a relative’s home in nearby Oklahoma City.

By then, the third-grader was among those suffocated beneath the debris. The official cause of death was mechanical asphyxia.

Frantic, he combed through the rubble with other students and first responders looking desperately for JaNae. Slowly, more and more children were pulled from the rubble. Some had scratches and bruises. Some were bleeding. But they were alive. And none of them were JaNae.

With each passing minute, “there was still more panic,” Hornsby said.

For two days, Hornsby and a small group of parents whose children were not found in the rubble waited at a church in Moore.

“I was still hopeful that maybe she would turn up,” Hornsby said, thinking she might be at a friend’s house or someplace else.

On Tuesday, he was at the church when he received the news.

His daughter was among the 10 children killed, buried under the rubble of a school that had always been a safe haven for them.

The family’s house, just three blocks from the school, also was destroyed. He hasn’t gone back to see if he might find a few of JaNae’s things to keep.

“JaNae was the life of the party. If JaNae was there you were having a good time. She liked to sing, be a big sister, be a big cousin. She liked to draw,” he said smiling as he remembered the small girl.

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