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Parents Die While Protecting Their Daughter from Tornado

The Short of It

Parents Melissa and Michael Mooneyhan died Sunday while shielding their 18-month-old daughter from a powerful tornado that destroyed the family's mobile home in Nashville, Ark.

The Lowdown

On Sunday, a tornado with a preliminary EF2 rating and winds estimated at 125 mph touched down in Nashville, according to the National Weather Service. Rescue crews then searched for people injured or killed in the storm and found the Mooneyhan family under the debris of their ravaged trailer. Their daughter was found squatting between her parents' bodies, awake and teary but with barely a scratch on her because she had been protected by her mom and dad.

The trailer looked "like it had exploded," said Howard County Coroner John Gray, calling the girl's survival "a miracle." The Mooneyhan's daughter was taken to the hospital and later released to relatives. The next day, family members returned to the trailer to look for mementos, toys and other items to save for the little girl.

The Upshot

At only 18 months old, the Mooneyhan's daughter likely won't remember the parents who sacrificed themselves for her safety or the tornado that took them from her. The Mooneyhan's story, however, reminds us that a parent's instinct to protect his or her child is incredibly strong and can sometimes rival the strength of Mother Nature.

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