A 9-year-old was photographed clutching her favourite doll while sheltering in a bathroom with her sisters, minutes before she died in a tornado that ripped her home to pieces.
Annistyn Rackley was hiding with her two sisters in the "safe space" her parents had chosen, a windowless bathroom in their Missouri, US home, holding her favourite doll 'Baby MawMaw' while laying in the bath.
Just 15 minutes after the picture, a devastating tornado ripped through the area where she lives, the Bootheel region, injuring her two sisters and parents. The family had just moved to the area earlier this month.
Heartbreakingly, search and rescue workers retrieved the doll from a field on Sunday.
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"They were sucked up into the tornado," said Sandra Hooker, Annistyn's great aunt, who received the snap in a text message on Friday evening.
"Their house is splintered … there’s debris strewn forever out in the field."
The family was sucked out of the house and dumped several yards away in a field where first responders later found them.
"I was flying around in the tornado and I prayed to Jesus to take care of me, and he spit me out – and the tornado spit me out into the mud," Annistyn’s sister Avalinn, 7, told doctors in a hospital in Memphis, Missouri.
She suffered a broken vertebra in her back and is due to undergo surgery.
Her mother, Meghan Rackley, 32, is recovering from broken bones, a brain injury and a large cut, Sandra Hooker said.
The father, Trey Rackley, 37, and her youngest sister, Alanna, 3, have since been released from the hospital after suffering cuts, bruises and shock, the aunt said.
"They brought Baby MawMaw to me, and I’m cleaning her up so that Ava can have Baby MawMaw," Hooker added.
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