Ark. couple died trying to shield daughter from twister
Published 9:41 am Tuesday, May 12, 2015
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Melissa and Michael Mooneyhan met as teenagers who attended different high schools. The two quickly fell in love and 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.
The trailer “was just picked up and flipped over,” said Howard County Coroner John Gray, who said the home looked “like it had exploded.” He said it was “a miracle that little girl survived.”
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“That poor little girl is never going to know them,” he added. “But she’s young enough that she’ll never remember what happened.”
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.
The girl, who is about 18 months old, was taken to the hospital and later released to relatives.
Polly McCammack, who also lives in Nashville, is Melissa’s third cousin. A week ago, she said, the close-knit family lost their grandmother who “practically raised” Melissa and her siblings.
“The family has been hit hard. They’re strong, but it’s almost like to the point you’re afraid to breathe,” McCammack said.
Michael Mooneyhan worked in the deli department of the local Wal-Mart. Melissa was a stay-at-home mom doting on their daughter.
“That baby was definitely their life. They considered her their greatest blessing. You couldn’t find two parents who loved a child more,” McCammack said. “She’s going to grow up knowing family and knowing love.”