Arkansas Tornado Kills Parents Michael & Melissa Mooneyhan While They Were Protecting Their Daughter

As many of us were winding down Mother's Day celebrations on Sunday night, a raging tornado making its way through a small town in the south killed two people and injured a number more. The Nashville, Arkansas, tornado killed a couple protecting their daughter from the storm even as it bludgeoned their mobile home, reducing it to rubble.

Michael and Melissa Mooneyhan, a young couple in their late 20s, became the only fatalities of the Arkansas tornado as they huddled over their 18-month-old child to shield her from the impact, The Weather Channel reported. The violent tornado — at an EF2 intensity, the lower end of the "strong" rating — caused the trailer to flip over and explode, Howard County Coroner John Gray said, adding:

I had wondered if they were in an enclosed space like a hallway or a bathroom just sheltering the little girl when it hit. It's a miracle that little girl survived.

Two other people were seriously injured and six others were treated for minor injuries from the tornado, with winds that surpassed 125 mph. According to the Arkansas Democrat‑Gazette, the Mooneyhans' trailer, located in the D&J mobile home park, was one among four that the storm had violently torn apart from their foundation and ruptured into pieces, scattering the trailers' metal siding, insulation, and possessions into the surrounding area.

The child was taken to the hospital and later released to relatives, KSLA reported, some of whom visited the site of destruction to collect items they could salvage for the toddler. The Mooneyhans married in 2004 — she was a homemaker and he, a local Walmart employee. Polly McCammack, a relative, told KSLA:

That baby was definitely their life. They considered her their greatest blessing. You couldn't find two parents who loved a child more.

"That poor little girl is never going to know them," said Gray, the coroner. "But she's young enough that she'll never remember what happened."

The tornado also raged through Texas, devastating homes and killing three in the cities of Van and Corsicana. At least eight people remain unaccounted for in Van, where officials told NBC News that the storm caused damage in an estimated one-third of the city.