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Oklahoma tornado took town’s youngest as it swept through


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Sydnee Vargyas, 7 months

Just 7 months old, Sydnee had crawled for the first time on Sunday. But she never really got to enjoy her newfound freedom.

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Sydnee was huddled in the bathtub of her south Oklahoma City home with her older sister, mother and grandmother as a tornado bore down on them. The strong winds pulled Sydnee out of her mother’s grasp.

When the debris stopped swirling, Laurinda Vargyas said she found Sydnee on a driveway.

"She was just laying there helpless. All I could do was sit there and hold her. She was already gone," Laurinda Vargyas told The Oklahoman newspaper. "They say she didn’t suffer. So I’ve got to find peace with that."

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Terri Long, 49

Long, a mother of three, was driving home from her job as a registrar at the Federal Aviation Administration when she stopped at a 7-Eleven store about 2 miles from her home. That’s where she died when the tornado hit.

"I have no idea why she stopped there; I’m still trying to figure that out," said her husband of 10 years, Ken Long, his voice cracking with sorrow. But he has a guess: "She was probably trying to get away" from the tornado.

For several hours after the tornado, Long didn’t know of his wife’s fate — not until her brother called her cellphone, and a police officer answered by saying her purse had been found at the convenience store.


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Terri Long may have fared no better had she made it home. Her husband, who was at work at the time of the tornado, said their house was destroyed, too. A couple of days after the tornado, Long still didn’t even have any pictures of his wife in his possession. He had only memories.

"She was just a happy person that loved her kids and family, loved Harleys and loved to be outside," Ken Long said.

A funeral was planned Friday for Terri Long. She would have turned 50 on Monday.

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Kyle Davis, 8

He was known to his friends as "The Wall."

It was a tribute to the ferocity Kyle brought to his beloved sport, soccer, and the way other players seemed to bounce off him as they went for the ball, said his grandfather, Marvin Dixon.

Kyle was among six 9-year-olds who died in the Plaza Towers Elementary School. Kyle had taken shelter in the school’s gymnasium with dozens of other students.

"He was in the position that the teacher told them to be in —crouched down with their hands over their heads," Dixon said. "The medical examiner said either some big rock or beam or something fell right on the back of his neck. He said he died instantly."

It would take a sizeable force to bring down Kyle’s large but playful personality.

"He was a pretty big kid," Dixon said. "Whenever he had the ball, other kids would just bounce off of him. That’s why they called him that. ... He was just the kindest, most giving kid you would ever meet. He had a grin from ear to ear."

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