Lacey Goelz checked out her son, Coleman, from his kindergarten class just a few minutes before the school was locked down.
Third-grade teacher Jennifer Doan fixates on the door at the far end of the hallway as if there is a monster behind it.
On the afternoon of May 20, an EF5 tornado tore through the metro area, carving a path of devastation 17 miles long and more than a mile wide. The massive twister destroyed 1,200 homes, displaced thousands of residents and caused damage estimated at more than $5 billion.
It stole 24 lives, among them seven children who perished as they sheltered with Doan in what they thought was the safety of their school, Plaza Towers Elementary.
In what has been a deadly Oklahoma tornado season, in which 49 people already have died, their terrifying story stands out.
The vast destruction, the children's traumatic deaths and the community's compassionate response drew national attention, prompted a presidential visit and produced an outpouring of sorrow and support from across the country.
From the disaster and its aftermath emerged tales of heartbreak and hope, sadness and selflessness.
These are memories of that day, those children and their teachers and the horrors and heroism that took place as they huddled in a hallway that for seven became a tomb.
Monday, May 20
Third-grade teacher Jennifer Doan wakes before sunrise worried about the weather. Several tornadoes spawned the previous day in central Oklahoma, including one near her Edmond home. Thunderstorms are again forecast, and Doan, 30, fears driving home in a downpour.
Before she leaves home, Moore Schools Superintendent Susan Pierce checks the calendar she keeps by the phone. Her retirement party is the next day. She needs to finish her speech. Her arthritis is flaring up. She blames the weather.
Moore firefighter Kyle Olsen, 30, heads to the gym after a 24-hour shift. He plans to spend his day working his side job mowing lawns.
Less than a mile from Plaza Towers, Principal Amy Simpson dresses for the day. A Moore native, she's finishing her third year in the top job.
Built in 1966, the school sits like an island surrounded by streets of tightly packed homes in the Plaza Towers neighborhood. For years, the school was one of Moore's top elementaries, with active parents and high-scoring students. Changing demographics and other factors took a toll, and a 2010 redistricting assigned many of its affluent families to a new school two miles south. Still, Simpson is proud of the school and its close-knit culture.
Showered and dressed, Doan skips her morning coffee. The mother of two young girls learned just a few weeks before that she's pregnant again. In the bedroom, she leans over and gives her still-sleeping fiance a kiss.
"I don't have a good feeling about today," she tells him.
He tells her to stay home.
"I can't," Doan says. "We only have four days of school left."
The school day begins with most of the school's 500 students gathering in the cafeteria for their daily "Rise and Shine" assembly. They say the Pledge of Allegiance and recite the school creed.
"I am a proud Plaza Tower Panther," they say. "I am a capable and dependable student full of possibilities and potential. ..."
Doan heads to a red-brick building behind the cafeteria. The 11,500-square-foot structure built in 2006 includes eight classrooms lining a central hallway and houses the second- and third-graders.
Three miles to the east at district headquarters, Superintendent Pierce and her staff meet.
Weather is on the agenda, but so are regular end-of-the-year items -- graduation, retirement parties, the last day of school on Thursday, teacher contract negotiations to begin on Friday.
The meeting breaks. Pierce works to finish two speeches: one for Saturday's graduations and another for her retirement party.
At the gym, Olsen gets a call from his wife. She warns him bad weather is forecast for the afternoon. Olsen cuts his workout short to get an early start mowing.
Doan's class spends the morning listening to music, emptying their desks and writing and drawing pictures about the school year and their summer plans. Despite the challenges at Plaza Towers, Doan loves the school and especially this class of 20 students. They get along, don't make fun of each other and encourage their classmates. In her fifth year of teaching and second at Plaza Towers, she's never had that before.
For about an hour, Simpson announces awards in math, reading and citizenship.
The year is winding down. More awards are scheduled for Tuesday, student fun day is Wednesday, the talent show Thursday. She helps sixth-graders practice for their Tuesday night recognition ceremony.
Pierce emails principals and administrators that central office staff is monitoring the weather. They should as well, but don't alarm students, she advises.
"Keep calm, watch for valid information, and pray," she writes. "It is May in Oklahoma. We can do this."
I don't have a good feeling about today. Jennifer Doan, third-grade teacher
The National Weather Service predicts the possibility of strong tornadoes between 3 and 6 p.m. A few nervous parents trickle into the school office to pick up their children before the storms hit.
Doan leads her class to the cafeteria for lunch. She drives to Chick-fil-A and orders her usual, chicken nuggets, before heading back to eat at her desk and text her fiance.
"I hope I make it home before the storm," she writes.
After a quick lunch at home, Pierce returns to the office for another staff meeting. They watch weather reports.
Doan's students go to music class.
Knowing that many of her students can't afford a yearbook, Doan uses her planning hour to make books that the children can sign and exchange that afternoon.
She wants them to have memories.
Storms are forming east of Lawton.
Steve Bocock picks his boys up early from their south Oklahoma City elementary school. He's been texting his wife, Aimee, an autism specialist at Plaza Towers, who frequently works with the third-graders.
"Are you watching the news?" he asks.
"Yeah, we're watching it on our iPads," she responds.
They've been married exactly one month.
The weather service issues a tornado watch for an area that includes Moore until 10 p.m.
Pierce again emails her principals, canceling evening activities. Regular dismissal is still planned.
"Keep calm and carry on," she writes.
Pierce forwards an email from Moore's emergency management director with a map showing rain over the metro and a line of thunderstorms across Lawton.
Across the district, parents are streaming into schools to pick up their children early.
Firefighter Kyle Olsen finishes his last mowing job of the day. The air is hot and sticky. He calls his wife and asks if he has time for a quick jog. Their two young boys are napping. He goes for a run around the pond near their new south Oklahoma City home.
The weather service issues a severe thunderstorm warning and predicts the worst weather will arrive just as schools let out.
Early dismissal isn't an option. With 23,000 students districtwide, Pierce worries children could walk home to locked houses or teen drivers might go somewhere unsafe.
Pierce must decide whether to dismiss students on time or have them wait out the storm at school. Keeping kids indoors seems less risky than putting them on buses and in cars.
Doan texts her fiance: "Kids are getting checked out left and right."
He replies: "I can call and act like your dad and we can check you out."
Olsen gets home from his run. His wife is watching weather reports. The boys are still asleep. He heads for the shower.
At Plaza Towers, Simpson interviews a job candidate. She hears heavy thunder, squawks from the weather radio and chatter from the school office. A secretary peeks in. Simpson wraps up the interview.
She emerges to a line of parents, not unusual during thunderstorms. But this line is long, and many parents seem afraid.
Simpson axes the formal check-out process.
No signing papers. No waiting in line. Just talk with an administrator, calmly pick up your children and go.
Moore activates its outdoor warning system after the weather service issues a tornado warning. Across the city, 36 sirens blare with little pause for the next 40 minutes.
Pierce sends her last email to her principals, saying she is watching a potential tornado coming from Bridge Creek, about 20 miles southwest of Plaza Towers. She warns them to take shelter.
In the Plaza Towers office, Simpson gets on the intercom.
"Get into your places," she says.
The school has no storm shelter and no basement. Students take cover in hallways, away from windows.
Simpson tries to move calmly through the halls. As she passes teachers, she asks them to turn off weather broadcasts on their phones. She doesn't want the kids to hear warnings that those above ground could die. She also needs her teachers strong.
Simpson walks through the east hall, where the fourth, fifth and sixth grades are lining the walls. They look afraid. They know this isn't a drill. Some hold hands.
"Mrs. Simpson doesn't see anything on radar yet," she says.
While they don't socialize much outside of work, being isolated in the "back building" has forged the second- and third-grade teachers into a tight team.
For the next half-hour, they pace their hallway, patting students' backs and offering reassurance.
Initially, Doan's class sits in alphabetical order. As adults arrive to collect their children, the remaining students squish together. A few switch places.
Eventually, Doan is left with 11 students: Sydney Angle, Antonia Candelaria, Emily Conatzer, Ja'Nae Hornsby, Nicolas McCabe, Kyle Davis, Porter Trammell, Kai Heuangpraseuth, Xavier Delgado, Ruby Macias Ramirez and Macy Riel.
Third-grader Christopher Legg asks his teacher, Michelle Gonzalez, for permission to use the bathroom. When he returns, his spot is taken, so he sits among Doan's students.
The children crouch on the hallway's tile floor facing the cream-colored cinder-block walls that during the school year had been covered with colorful student artwork and lessons.
The wind howls, and hail pounds the building's roof and skylights. Children cover their tucked heads with their arms.
By now, Doan's fiance is home from work and following the tornado on television. When he sees it's headed toward Moore, he gets back in his car and drives toward the school, just in case Doan needs a ride home.
"We're just taking precautions," Simpson says over the Plaza Towers intercom.
Olsen and his wife watch on television as the tornado hits Newcastle, 10 minutes from their house, and veers in their direction. The family decides to drive to a friend's home just a few miles away where there's a storm shelter. Heavy rain and dime-size hail slap the car. Olsen and his wife glance back south and see the enormous funnel.
Steve Bocock and his sons clean out a closet at their south Oklahoma City home. They don baseball helmets and watch on television as the tornado drops on Newcastle and heads toward their neighborhood near SW 119 and Pennsylvania Avenue.
"We gotta go," Bocock tells his sons. They drive a mile on north on Penn. Bocock turns his pickup around and parks. He pulls out his cellphone camera.
The weather service issues a tornado emergency, saying it is tracking a "large and extremely dangerous" tornado near Newcastle moving northeast. The service warns people to take shelter.
Parents now flood through the Plaza Towers school doors, some panicked. One man slips, and Simpson snatches him by the coat to keep him from falling.
"You can't go down my hall like that," she says, just like she had to a half-dozen others. "You have to remain calm."
He swears at her; there's a tornado on the ground. Simpson knows he's only afraid.
"I understand," she says to him, "but you can't scare my kids."
Lord Jesus, don't take her, I'm not ready. Steve Bocock, spouse of Plaza Towers staff member
Doan texts her fiance: "Love you."
It's getting hot in the second- and third-grade hallway. Kids are sweating. Teacher Cindy Darter retrieves pillows from her second-grade reading corner to put over children's heads. Another second-grade teacher, Shelly Calvert, covers others with her green sweater.
The frantic voices of KWTV-9's storm trackers play on the radio in the background as Steve Bocock uses his cellphone to record video of the tornado as it crosses Penn in the direction of Plaza Towers, where his wife is at work.
Fear sets in.
"Hail Mary, full of grace ..."
"Lord Jesus, don't take her, I'm not ready," he thinks.
Simpson's husband texts her: "It's gonna hit you."
The tornado hits Briarwood Elementary with winds topping 200 mph and shredding whole neighborhoods in its path.
Less than two miles to the northeast at Plaza Towers, second-grade teacher Emily Eischen hears the storm's approach. It sounds like a jet engine. Eischen hears her principal over the intercom, using a stern voice she's not used to.
From the hallway, third-grade teacher Cheryl Littlejohn watches out a west-facing classroom window for the tornado. As the twister reaches the playground, Littlejohn slams the classroom door and ducks down with the children.
The teachers kneel down and wrap their arms over the children. Some pray. Many of the children are crying. Some scream. None look up.
Doan fixates on the door at the far end of the hallway.
On her left is Xavier Delgado. On her right, closest to her is Porter Trammell, and next to him Nicolas McCabe, who is crying. Next to Nicolas is Kyle Davis.
Doan reaches and pats Nicolas on the back and tells him it's OK.
She ducks and is moving her left arm to cover her head when the tornado strikes.
In the school office, seconds before impact, Simpson gets on the intercom for the last time.
"It's here," she says.
She rushes into a faculty restroom with four other women and crouches under a sink.
A pounding sound fills the hallway as airborne objects strike the back building. The hallway door blows open. Choking dust and debris fly through the hall and fill noses, ears and mouths. The roof tears away, and the hallway walls crumble inward, one on top of the other. Water pours from a broken sprinkler pipe in the ceiling.
Teachers' aide Nicki Willis feels herself being pummeled and then picked up by the tornado.
"This is it," she thinks.
And then it stops.
Scott McCabe, an electrician, is working in Shawnee when the job is shut down because of approaching storms. Soon after, he hears reports that Briarwood Elementary has suffered a direct tornado strike. He speeds in his company truck toward Plaza Towers, where his only son, Nicolas, is a third-grader in Doan's class.
Mikki Davis left work shortly after 3 p.m. to pick up her two children, Kyle and Kaylee, from Plaza Towers. It was raining so hard, she instead drove to her grandfather's house near SW 74 Street and May Avenue to wait out the storm. There, Davis watched television reports of Briarwood Elementary being hit by a tornado, but heard no mention of Plaza Towers. She is hysterical and in no condition to drive. He father picks her up, and they drive toward the school. They reach SW 12 and Santa Fe Avenue before downed trees and debris block their way. They abandon the car and hasten south toward the school two miles away.
Nicole Angle is pinned under a wall in her destroyed home on SW 14, a half-mile from the school. Eventually freed, she'll go to Plaza Towers in search of her two daughters, including Sydney, who is in Doan's class.
After he and his family escape unscathed from the storm shelter, Moore firefighter Kyle Olsen receives a text from his father, the Midwest City fire chief, telling him that Moore has been hit hard and that he probably needs to go to work.
The restroom walls protecting Simpson and the four other staff members still stand, but the roof is gone. She hears kids. She climbs out, turns a corner and sees a car bumper at eye level. Everything she knows is gone.
In the back building, some students appear unconscious, others are bleeding. Some cling to their teachers, who are searching for a way out of the mountain of debris. Pieces of metal, wires and shredded insulation hang overhead.
Several teachers look down the hallway to where the third-graders were sitting. It's buried beneath a collapsed wall. They yell and get no response.
Doan finds herself in darkness, beneath a deep pile of rubble, able to move only her left arm from the elbow down. She feels heavy pressure on her back and is having trouble breathing.
She uses her free hand to push debris away from her face. She takes a gasp of air.
Her right arm is still around Porter, who struggles to free himself. Each time he moves, Doan feels stabs of pain. She has a broken sternum, three broken vertebrae and a piece of steel rebar piercing her palm. She tries to calm Porter, but he keeps struggling.
"I don't want to die," he says.
"It's OK," Doan repeats again and again. "It's OK."
Simpson sees children crying and climbing out of the kindergarten hallway and hears cries for help. She shouts directions to families and strangers arriving at the scene and helps usher children away from the building.
"Try to stay quiet so that you can hear," she tells them.
The tornado crosses Interstate 35.
The tornado strikes Moore Public Schools headquarters, where Pierce and other staff members have taken shelter. They emerge to find the surrounding neighborhoods reduced to matchsticks.
By now, neighbors and parents swarm Plaza Towers, many carrying gloves, shovels and crowbars. Many look terrified. Some sob. Others scream out the names of their children. The neighborhood is a wasteland of splintered wood, twisted metal, stripped trees and tossed cars.
Steve Bocock and his sons had followed the tornado in his truck and seen the horrible black wall bear down on Plaza Towers, where his wife works. He drives through the obliterated neighborhood to within a block of the school. His boys are crying. He tucks the family's Yorkshire terrier, Gizmo, under his arm like a football, before dropping him in a parked car near the school. He runs into the parking lot screaming his wife's name. Miraculously, he finds her almost immediately.
Someone touches Amy Simpson's shoulder. It's her husband, Lindy, an Edmond firefighter. They hug. Simpson has seen the youngest students streaming out through a hole in the front of the building. But she hasn't seen the second- or third-graders. She points her husband toward a tree, stripped of bark and leaves and wrapped in metal.
Go to the tree and turn east until you find the back building, she tells him.
He's joined by Steve Bocock. Their sons played football together.
They're here. They're here for us. Jennifer Doan, third-grade teacher
After a rapid weakening near Lake Stanley Draper, the tornado fizzles and lifts, completing its 50-minute march of destruction.
Doan doesn't know how much longer she has. The weight bears down on her; she's in agony and struggles to breathe. She prays that they'll be found. She tells Porter, the student pinned next to her, that someone will come. She can't see Porter in the darkness but can feel him.
By now, she's lost all concept of time.
She thinks about her fiance and never seeing him again. She thinks about the child she'll never know, certain she's lost the baby she's carrying.
At times, Porter is calm. At times, he screams.
"I think Nicolas is dead," he tells Doan about the boy next to him.
Steve Bocock and Lindy Simpson enter the demolished back building and immediately find several teachers and students soaking wet. Adults pass children down the hall. Bocock lifts them over a concrete wall and hands them down to Simpson.
Doan calls out for help but doesn't know if anyone hears her. Several times she hears voices saying a pregnant teacher is trapped.
Finally, she hears the sound of debris being removed nearby.
"We're here," she hears a voice say.
"Hang on, Porter. Hang on," she says. "They're here. They're here for us."
Porter is pulled out first. Then the debris around Doan's head begins to move. She sees a glimpse of light. She raises her free hand. A man takes hold of it.
"It's OK. We're going to get you out," Steve Bocock tells her.
"We're all in here. We're right here. We're right here," Doan says in a voice that Bocock finds amazingly calm.
Nearby, a girl is pinned under rebar. Bocock and Simpson free her and find three more children underneath, wedged together. They pull the first two out alive. The third is dead.
From the top of the rubble pile, Doan is passed down through a series of cradled arms and placed on a backboard.
Rescuers carry her to the front of the school where the injured are being triaged on a concrete slab that used to be a pavilion.
Doan sees Amy Simpson and several teachers. They try unsuccessfully to call her fiance. They hold Doan's hand as she lies on her back staring into a clear blue sky. She is happy when another of her students, Kai, is placed on the ground several feet away and he turns and asks her if she is OK.
Scott McCabe traverses the decimated school grounds calling his son's name and asking everyone he comes across whether they've seen Nicolas. At one point, he sees one of Nicolas's classmates, Kai, and his teacher, Doan, lying in the triage area. Doan looks too injured to approach so he asks Kai if he knows where Nicolas is. Kai says he hasn't seen him.
Frantic parents ask Simpson if she's seen their babies. Rescuers try to determine how many are left inside. Simpson gives her best guess: as few as five, as many as 15. She's desperate to know what's happening. She crawls up the rubble for a better look, but emergency workers shoo her away.
Strangers place Doan in the passenger seat of a four-wheeler and drive her the half-mile to Abundant Life United Pentecostal Church on SW 19, which is serving as a temporary staging point.
Around her, the neighborhood she knew is gone, not a single landmark recognizable. People, many bleeding, walk about in shock.
At the church, people place Doan in the back of a pickup. A stranger rests her head in his lap and tries to comfort her. He tries unsuccessfully to reach her fiance, as do several other people standing nearby. And then she is in the back of an ambulance.
Nicole Angle locates her 11-year-old daughter, Casey, but 9-year-old Sydney is still missing. She's in Doan's class. They're told she's been evacuated to St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, on SW 119 in Oklahoma City. She heads that way.
Doan is already gone by the time her fiance reaches the destroyed school building. But Nyle Rogers doesn't know it. He'd also abandoned his car on SW 12 and run the final two miles to the school, then spent about 20 minutes digging through rubble with firemen, parents and neighbors before someone told him Doan has been taken to the church. He sets off at a run. He will miss her again.
Approaching the school on foot from the northwest, Mikki Davis almost collapses when she sees what remains of the Plaza Towers. Yellow crime scene tape surrounds the site and knots of anxious parents watching emergency workers poring over the rubble.
The musty air is filled with the sound of jackhammers, the Jaws of Life and other heavy equipment being used to try to cut, lift and remove debris.
Davis doesn't linger. She's received word that her daughter and mother are at the Abundant Life Church. After they reunite, Davis provides police with information about her still missing son, Kyle. She's also sent to St. Andrew's, where she's told children rescued from Plaza Towers are being taken.
Like other Plaza Tower parents, she arrives at St. Andrew's to find only high school students. Like many parents, she is upset and angry. She collapses and is taken by ambulance to a hospital.
Doan feels a wave of relief in the OU Medical Center emergency room when one of the attendants performing an ultrasound says, "I have a heartbeat."
Her baby is OK.
A chaplain asks if she can contact anyone and returns a short time later to tell Doan her fiance is on his way. More relief.
Simpson's cellphone comes back to life. It rings and dings nonstop. She gives the phone to her husband, who updates her Facebook page. They've survived.
Simpson and others walk to Abundant Life Church with children who haven't been picked up by family yet. Traffic is bumper-to-bumper in and out of Moore.
Pierce, the superintendent, has been all over the city -- hitching a ride with a federal agent named Pablo, showing up at the wrong command post, arriving at the right one, finagling a ride in a construction worker's pickup, setting up the school district command center at Moore High School, catching a ride with a Moore police officer.
After hours of navigating a ravaged city, she's finally made it to Abundant Life.
A steady stream of humanity shuffles back and forth along the half-mile stretch on Eagle Drive between the church and school, but Pierce has to stay put. Her arthritis is too painful and the terrain too treacherous.
Counselors and police officers ask for her help in identifying the dead. They have seven bodies and seven families still searching.
No one can agree how to go forward.
Should the identification take place at the school, where the recovered bodies were being kept under guard in the cafeteria? Should they take the bodies back to the medical examiner's office? Should they drive separate cars or take a bus?
In a drizzle under bright portable lights, dozens of emergency workers continue to search through the flattened building, uncertain whether others may still be trapped.
About 50 workers form a line and pass rubble down from a snarled heap of bricks, blocks and iron. The smell of natural gas stings the air. Search and rescue dogs sniff the ruins. As night falls, relatives stand near the rubble pile, calling out the names of their missing children, unaware that the bodies of the seven dead students were recovered not long after the wall's collapse.
Among the families are Scott McCabe and his wife, Stacey, who maintain a vigil at the school until about 10:30 p.m. when they go to Abundant Life, where families of the missing are told to gather.
Firefighter Kyle Olsen has no idea how long he's been digging through the rubble of the hallway. After emerging from a storm shelter that afternoon, he'd called dispatch and been directed to Plaza Towers. At the site, a fire department commander stops to warn Olsen he'd be dealing with fatalities.
"I'm fine," Olsen responds.
Immediately he'd gone to work trying to free the body of a young girl buried under cinder blocks, reinforced concrete and other debris. He loses track of how many children he helps recover that night.
When they finish the hallway, he sees the parents still standing near the police tape. One agonized face catches his attention. He can tell it's a father of a still-missing child.
He'd say something if he thought it would help. He hopes the father knows they're doing everything they can.
Officials agree on how to identify the bodies.
Relatives will write descriptions, like what the children wore to school that day. But the children's names won't be confirmed that night.
In the parking lot of Abundant Life Church, a police chaplain comforts frightened and frustrated parents who still don't know the fate of their children.
An odyssey through several churches ends for Dan and Nicole Angle at Abundant Life. Authorities take down their daughter Sydney's description and send them home with a sliver of hope they will hear something the next morning.
Nicki Willis, the teachers' aide, reunites with her husband at Abundant Life. She helps authorities sort their list of missing, crossing off children she knows are alive. She sees families gathered in the sanctuary, lit by candles and a single generator-powered light.
For Willis it begins to sink in. Some of these kids aren't lost or in a hospital. They aren't coming home.
Tuesday, May 21
By the time she's discharged from an Oklahoma City hospital where she's been treated for anxiety, Mikki Davis still has no news regarding her missing son, Kyle. She heads to the First Baptist Church of Moore, which by now has become the reunification center for Moore school families separated by the storm.
There, counselors tell Davis they still don't know where Kyle is. They tell her to go home. They will contact her as soon as they hear anything.
She drives with her fiance to his home in Noble. She doesn't sleep. As rain pours down, all she thinks about is that Kyle might still be trapped alive in the rubble, wet, cold and hungry.
Exhausted, firefighter Kyle Olsen arrives at the incident command post near Fire Station No. 1 off SW 19 Street, where he runs into his father, the Midwest City fire chief. The father asks where he's been working. When Kyle tells him Plaza Towers, his father responds, "I'm sorry."
Pierce and her team meet at First Baptist Church. They talk briefly about logistics and the buildings lost. They talk too about the greater loss. Seven babies gone. And seven families who've lost their children.
Simpson and her husband wait at First Baptist Church with a few of the families still missing their children. When the families are given rooms for the night and taken care of, the Simpsons leave for home.
Pierce arrives home -- the one she grew up in, the one she's lived in with her husband, Archie, for nearly 20 years.
She hugs Archie, a retired Marine.
She is muddy. They have no electricity or running water. All she wants is to wash her face and hands. She grabs bottled water out of the refrigerator.
She can't sleep but knows she has to try. She and Archie pray, both for the blessing of being together and safe and for the strength the families of the lost will need.
She sleeps for about two hours.
Mikki Davis is headed north on Interstate 35 toward First Baptist, when her fiance's cellphone rings. It's her sister. The medical examiner's office has called their dad. They've identified Kyle's body.
Dan and Nicole Angle are called back to First Baptist Church. They know what's coming. Sydney didn't make it.
Wednesday, May 22
Doan is mad. For days, at a hospital psychologist's suggestion, her fiance and others refuse to tell her which children are dead.
Finally, after he receives an official list of names, her fiance and the psychologist go to Doan's hospital room to break the news.
"I saw his face at the door," Doan said of the psychologist. "I knew that's what he was coming in there for."
Still, she isn't prepared.
Gone are Sydney Angle, Antonia Candelaria, Emily Conatzer, Ja'Nae Hornsby, Nicolas McCabe, Kyle Davis and Christopher Legg, the boy from Michelle Gonzalez's class who was sitting with her class.
She cries hysterically, each name breaking her.
Her shrieks can be heard down the hospital hallways.
"They're all mine," she wails again and again and again. "They're all mine."
Saturday, May 25
Just released from the hospital, Doan attends the funeral of Emily Conatzer at First Baptist Church in Moore. She thinks it might help but is concerned about going.
She's thought a lot about what she'll say to the parents but never comes up with the right words.
She's worried, even afraid they may be mad. How will they react?
At the funeral, the parents of Antonia and Nicolas approach her at the same time. They embrace her, hold her hand and thank her.
"I'm so sorry," Doan says.
Plans are underway to rebuild Plaza Towers Elementary. Officials hope to have the new school open by fall 2014. If only one could know the date when the emotional scars will heal.
During Memorial Day weekend, a Moore police officer led some of the families of the seven students on a private tour through the rubble of Plaza Towers. He showed them the hallway where their children died and provided as many details as he could.
Mikki Davis, who lost her son Kyle, said the tour gave her a sense of closure.
Dan and Nicole Angle, who lost their daughter Sydney, didn't go. They have not been back to Plaza Towers.
Scott McCabe finds it too difficult to talk much about the loss of his son, Nicolas. He thought he would be safe at school that day.
Jennifer Doan says she struggles with what she could have done differently. The answer that most people give her -- nothing -- is hard to accept.
She said she's been blessed and amazed by the support she's received even from strangers. But it also makes her uncomfortable.
"I hear all these words calling me a hero and saying they're so thankful for me. ... But I don't have any sense of that. I just feel tremendous guilt still.
"Maybe it's because it's my kids that died. I didn't protect them. I didn't return all of them back to their parents like they should be."