Moore Daycare Workers Recount Covering Children During Powerful Twister

Wednesday, May 22nd 2013, 7:05 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Since Monday's deadly twister, we've been hearing stories of heroism, people who risked their own lives to protect others from nature's fury.

We heard about the heroic owner of a daycare, who gathered the children and some of their parents into a safe spot as the tornado bore down on them.

A pile of debris is what's left of a strip mall and the A Step Above Learning Center on one end.

Abby Larsen runs it, and she had just returned from an errand as the tornado approached

Larsen said she saw, "Just a huge mass of black debris swirling, coming at you."

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

She and her staff had practiced tornado drills with the children and sang songs with them to keep them calm.

They told them a train was coming, and the teachers piled into the smallest room they had and locked their arms together on top of the children.

There were 23 people huddled in the tiny bathroom. Larsen and Heather Walker, who works at the daycare, described piling in together with their arms crossed over the children, to keep them from being taken by the wind. Larsen said they could feel the twister pulling them.

"We were trying to latch into each other, so if it was going to pull one, it was going to pull all," she said.

They covered themselves with foam mats, so even though bricks and debris were falling on them, they were relatively unharmed.

"They didn't know what was coming, because the teachers were singing," Larsen said. "Afterwards, there was crying, everybody was crying."

Larsen's father is helping with the clean-up, now, and he said he couldn't be more proud of his daughter, who the parents consider a hero for protecting their children in destruction like this.

"She kept them together. She kept them together. They did what she said," Dave Rutherford said.

They were all cut. One child had a head injury, another a lung injury, but all of them are already home from the hospital.

Larsen said she plans to reopen the daycare and hopes to find room in a nearby church.