Society

Two Oklahoma Nine-Year-Olds, Best Friends, Died in Each Other's Arms

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Two nine-year-old girls who were best friends are believed to have died together after the tornado in Oklahoma.

Antonia Lee Candelaria and Emily Conatzer went to Plaza Towers Elementary school where eight children died. The school was flattened and most of the school hid in the basement for safety.

Though it was originally thought the children died from drowning due to burst water pipes, it was later determined they died from mechanical asphyxiation due to something falling on them.

"We take some comfort in thinking that she and Emily were holding onto each other and not alone," Antonia's mother, Brandie, said.

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"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."

She said the two girls had been "inseparable in life" after the Conatzers moved into the Candelaria's neighborhood. 

Antonia had a little sister and an older sister who survived. Emily also had a little sister who survived.

Candelaria said her memories about the tornado were blurry, but she remembers going to the Contazers' afterward and they were in a rush to get to the school.

Emily's father, Jimmy, saved one of the Candelaria's children, but said he could not find Antonia.

"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," Candelaria said.

"My other girls are my Lovebugs. She'd just recently become a big sister and she loved it, she loved spoiling her little baby sister."

There have been many questions about why the elementary school did not have underground bunkers or safe spaces built for emergencies. But Candelaria said it is not the time to be pointing fingers.

"There's a lot of questions as to why things happened the way they happened but now isn't the time for pointing fingers or laying blame," she said. 

"We have to do what we can for our little girls. There are so many stories we have to share with each other, so many memories of our beautiful ladybug."

"I couldn't be there with her but she was with her best friend and now she's still with her best friend and knowing that helps a bit."

Sources: Daily Mail, NY Daily News