Young Oklahoma tornado victim is remembered for ‘loving spirit’
Hundreds gathered under stormy skies in Oklahoma City on Thursday to mourn 9-year-old Antonia Lee Candelaria, one of seven children who died when a tornado leveled their elementary school Monday.
It was the first of the funerals for the 24 victims of the tornado that devastated Oklahoma City and the suburb of Moore.
Antonia, known as “Tonie” had the “sweetest, most gentle and loving spirit about her,” according to her obituary.
“She was a beautiful young lady on the inside and out. She had her own most special and beautiful way of looking at the world. She could find the positive, good and joy in everything,” her obituary said.
Relatives and friends huddled under umbrellas in the rain as they made their way into the chapel, filled with photos of a smiling Antonia, the Associated Press reported.
“It’s a very sad day for all of us,” said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as he arrived for the funeral, according to Reuters.
Services for Kyle Davis, 8, who also was among the seven children who died at the school are planned for Friday in Oklahoma City.
The tornado hit Plaza Towers Elementary School just after 3 p.m., when students were still in the building and there was little time to move them. School officials chose to keep the children on campus. Neither Plaza Towers, nor Briarwood Elementary School, which was also hit, had safe rooms.
Ten children were among the 24 victims. The youngest, a boy named Case Futrell, was 4 months old. A girl, Sydnee Vargyas, was 7 months old. The oldest among the victims was 70-year-old Deanna Ward.
The other adults killed were Terri Long, 49; Megan Futrell, 29; Shannon Quick, 40; Jenny Neely, 38; Cindy Plumley, 45; Hemant Bhonde, 65; Rick Jones, 54; William Sass, 63; Gina Stromski, 51; Tewauna Robinson, 45; Randy Smith, 39; Leslie Johnson, 46; and Richard Brown, 41.
The other children were Karrina Vargyas, 4, and 9-year-olds Janae Hornsby, Sydney Angle, Emily Conatzer, Nicolas McCabe and Christopher Legg.
[For the Record, 2:06 p.m., PDT May 23: An earlier version of this post identified 4-month-old Case Futrell as a girl. The Oklahoma medical examiner’s office late Wednesday corrected that information, stating that Case Futrell was a boy.]
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