Moore, OK — The first tornado victim to be identified is nine-year-old Ja’Nae Hornsby. The third grader was hunkered down at Plaza Towers Elementary during the EF-5 rated twister, which tore apart the school and killed at least seven students.
Hornsby was confirmed as a victim by her family, who gathered on Tuesday at a Baptist church in Oklahoma City to mourn for the bright little girl.
The family spent an agonizing night waiting for news of their precious girl, only to have their hopes shattered with a call from the medical examiner’s office, confirming Ja’Nae was gone. The young girl’s aunt, Angela Hornsby, stated that her niece spent last weekend at her house, playing with her cousins. She added:
“They like to play dress-up. My daughter puts jewelry on them and I took pictures of them dancing together and they took video. they were just happy. She was always happy, always smiling.”
But young Ja’Nae Hornsby will smile no more. The young girl went off to school Monday morning while her father, Joshua, went to work in Oklahoma City. But as the massive storm bore down on Moore, the father of two rushed back home to get Ja’Nae and her two-year-old sister, Jia.
But the highways were jammed. By the time Joshua got to Moore, the tornado was already gone. He arrived at Plaza Towers Elementary to find a triage center in the parking lot but found no sign of nine-year-old Ja’Nae Hornsby. Angela phoned all the hospitals in the area but couldn’t find her niece.
Joshua Hornsby went to St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church as night fell to join a few other parents also waiting for reunions. Angela added:
“He would not leave until he found out what happened to his baby. They received a call while they were at the church this morning. My sister called to tell me. They were just sobbing.”
The loss of Ja’Nae is devastating to the family, which lost the young girl’s mother to lupus last year. The third grade girl doted on her baby sister, according to family members. Joshua Hornsby also lost his house in the killer twister. Ja’Nae’s little sister is okay, having been picked up from school by her grandmother.
While Ja’Nae Hornsby has been identified as a Moore tornado victim, there are still at least 23 other victims to be officially identified.