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Names of those killed in Oklahoma tornado include 10 children

May 22, 2013|By Rick Rojas and Stephen Ceasar | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
  • An American flag sits in a destroyed car's window in a neighborhood devastated by the tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., on Monday
An American flag sits in a destroyed car's window in a neighborhood… (Tony Gutierrez / AP )

Officials in Oklahoma on Wednesday released the names of the 24 people killed in the tornado that ripped through Oklahoma City and the suburb of Moore earlier this week.

Ten children were among the victims. The youngest, a boy named Case Futrell, was 4 months old. Another girl, Sydnee Vargyas, was 7 months old. The oldest, a woman named Deanna Ward, was 70.

Many of the victims died of injuries related to blunt force trauma, including to the head and chest, but among the children — seven of whom were 8 or 9 years old — the cause of death for five of them was "mechanical asphyxiation." Another was listed as "asphyxia."

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Gregory Davis, a forensic pathologist at the University of Kentucky and a state medical examiner in Kentucky, explained mechanical asphyxia as dying from of an overwhelming pressure, potentially from the rubble of a collapsed building.

"You literally cannot breathe," Davis said. "You cannot move."

He said the amount of pressure — depending on where it was applied — would not have to be much in order to prove fatal. He said it could take about 10 pounds of pressure on the neck to close off the jugular veins, and about 13 pounds of pressure to close off the carotid arteries.

Before and after images of tornado destruction in Moore, Okla.

For a child, he said, they could pass out in about 30 seconds.

The adults killed were Terri Long, 49; Megan Futrell, 29; Shannon Quick, 40; Jenny Neely, 38; Cindy Plumley, 45; Hemant Bhonde, 65; Rick Jones, 54; William Sass, 63; Gina Stromski, 51; Tewauna Robinson, 45; Randy Smith, 39; Leslie Johnson, 46; and Richard Brown, 41.

The children were 9-year-olds Antonia Candelaria, Janae Hornsby, Sydney Angle, Emily Conatzer, Nicolas McCabe and Christopher Legg. Kyle Davis was 8. Karrina Vargyas was 4.

One of the victims, Long, was described as an ideal citizen of Moore, one who cared deeply about the community. Moore resident Linda Webb said she met Long a few years ago after Long began volunteering at events for Webb's non-profit organization, Ally’s House, which raises money to assist families who have children with cancer.

Whenever the organization put out a call for help, Long was the first to lend a hand, Webb said.

Long would work feverishly at gift-wrapping fundraisers over Christmas, and spend hours in the sun during summertime golf tournaments. She was selfless, so much so that Webb cannot recall if there was a particular reason why she volunteered with the group — she would simply show up to help.

“She’d be out there in the heat,  the cold — no matter what,” she said. “A volunteer for all seasons.”

Webb had braced for the news that someone she knew had died, but was particularly saddened to hear it was Long. “Odds were my family would know one of the victims,”  she said. “But she was just an incredibly compassionate person and a citizen you don’t want to lose.”

[For the record, 11 a.m. Thursday: An earlier version of this post referred to Hemant Bhonde, 65, as the oldest victim of the Oklahoma tornado. According to information released later Wednesday, Deanna Ward, 70, was the oldest person who died as a result of the tornado, and Case Futrell, the 4-month-old boy, was incorrectly identified earlier as a girl.]


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