Tragic last photo of girl sheltering in bathtub before deadly tornado struck

·4-min read

A heartbreaking photo has captured the last moments of a young girl’s life before a tornado ripped through her US home, sending her family flying through the air.

As storms raged across the country last week, Trey and Meghan Rackley and their three daughters sought shelter in a windowless bathroom in their southeast Missouri home on Friday night (local time).

To prove they were in their “safe space”, the girls’ mum texted her Aunt Sandy a photo of the three girls in and next to the bathtub — all of them smiling, nine-year-old Annistyn holding her favourite doll.

Fifteen minutes later, a tornado splintered the home, carrying the family members metres through the air into a field where first responders found them in mud, Sandra Hooker told the Associated Press.

Avalinn Rackley, 7, Alanna Rackley, 3, and Annistyn Rackley, 9, pose for a picture in a bathroom in their home near Caruthersville, Missouri. Source: Meghan Rackley/Courtesy of Sandra Hooker via AP
Annistyn Rackley, 9, (far right) hid in the bath with her sisters before a tornado struck their home. Source: Meghan Rackley/Courtesy of Sandra Hooker via AP

Annistyn, a third-grader who loved swimming, dancing and cheerleading, died.

At least 88 people — including 74 in Kentucky — were killed in the tornado outbreak that has also left a wake of destruction. Several people remain missing.

Nine-year-old tornado victim’s mum fights for life

Annistyn’s sisters and parents were injured, but survived.

Her dad, a 37-year-old trucking company dispatcher, suffered cuts and bruises and remains sore and sometimes in shock, Ms Hooker said.

But Trey and the youngest daughter, three-year-old Alanna — Little Lani — are no longer hospitalised.

Ms Hooker said Meghan Rackley’s injuries included broken bones, a brain injury and a large cut, and she’s asking people to pray for the 32-year-old mum.

The middle child, Avalinn, or Ava, had broken vertebrae in her back and was expected to undergo surgery on Wednesday (local time), Ms Hooker said.

The Rackley family poses for a picture while on a trip to Sedona, Arizona. Source: Summer Alexander/Courtesy of Sandra Hooker via AP
Annistyn’s sisters and parents were injured, but survived. Source: Summer Alexander/Courtesy of Sandra Hooker via AP.

Tornado 'spits' Ava out after prayer to Jesus

After Ava reached a hospital in Memphis, Ms Hooker said she made a startling comment to doctors and nurses.

“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,” the young girl said, according to Ms Hooker.

Hundreds of community members attended a prayer vigil for Annistyn on Sunday.

Afterwards, searchers in the field near the Rackleys’ house found the doll the nine-year-old was holding in the last photo taken of her. Ms Hooker said it was Annistyn’s favorite, and she called it Baby MawMaw.

“They brought Baby MawMaw to me, and I’m cleaning her up so that Ava can have Baby MawMaw,” she said.

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to help the family.

An aerial photo made with a drone shows damage from a tornado that caused widespread destruction of homes and businesses in Cambridge Shores, Kentucky, USA. Source: EPA via AAP
Dozens of people were killed in the huge storms that lashed the mid-west. Source: EPA via AAP

Six members of same family killed in tornado

A family including several children have been found dead after a tornado ripped through their Kentucky home.

Cierra Bryant told local publication WKYT that she has lost her mother-in-law, sister and brother-in-law, Rachel and Stephen Brown, and three of their young children, aged between four and 16.

Ms Bryant’s 14-year-old niece remains missing.

Ms Bryant said she initially wasn’t too worried when she hadn’t heard from the family but later saw what was left of their home in drone footage.

Rachel and Stephen Brown before the deadly tornado struck
Cierra Bryant has lost her mother-in-law, sister and brother-in-law, Rachel and Stephen Brown (pictured), and three of their young children. Source: WKYT

“My mother-in-law’s truck was sitting in their living room. Where the living room would’ve been,” she said.

“There was nothing they could’ve held onto, nothing they could’ve tried to shelter themselves, everything is gone.”

Ms Bryant said the family members were all thrown from the house as the tornado struck and their bodies were scattered in fields, a neighbour’s property and a creek.

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