Kyle Davis was 100% boy. He loved going with his grandpa to see Monster Trucks, and would hoot and clap whenever one of those giant things would roll over and crush a smaller car. Because he was a good kid and got A’s and B’s, his family would sometimes reward him with a trip to the lake and let him ride his four-wheeler around.
The 8-year-old was a force on the soccer field. His stocky build earned him a nickname: “The Wall.”
“Kids just bounced off of him,” Davis’ grandfather Marvin Dixon said Wednesday. “He just loved being with his Pawpaw and I loved being with him. I’m just going to miss him.”
Kyle was among 24 people who lost their lives Monday when a massive tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City.
He was one of seven children who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
His parents called him ‘Hammy’
Talking to Marvin Dixon and Kyle’s grandmother, Sharon Dixon, it’s clear right away that you don’t have to ask any questions about the third-grader. So broken-hearted but so full of love and memories for their grandson, they just want to talk about him.
“I could talk to you all day about him because he was our son, too,” Sharon Dixon said. “He was always asking, ‘Can I stay at your house?’ We kept a nightlight on for him because he was afraid of the dark.”
“I’m going to miss his smile,” Marvin Dixon said. “It would melt your heart, but you also look at it and wonder, ‘Bud, what are you up to?’”
“Me and his mom started calling him Hambone and then Hammy because he liked being in front of the camera. I don’t think we ever did call him Kyle.”
Marvin Dixon dropped his grandson and granddaughter, Kaylee, 11, off at school Monday. Kaylee was struggling to lift her school project out of the car.
“Sissy, I’ll get this for you and take it in for you,” Kyle said.
“I told him that I thought that was a very gentlemanly thing to do,” Marvin Dixon recalled.
He told the kids, “OK, I’ll see you at 3. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Pawpaw,” Kyle answered.
Kaylee survived the twister that ripped the school apart around 3 p.m. She was in the main building, but Kyle and his classmates were hunkered down in another building, the Dixons said.
“It was just hailing, really coming down as that thing got closer and we got in the car,” Marvin said.
“The school was in lockdown. I would have gone to pick them up. I would have. I would have risked it, but I couldn’t. They wouldn’t let me get to him.”
The Dixons managed to outrun the tornado in their car. When they were able to turn around, traffic was backed up on the interstate. By this time, the Dixons had Kyle’s mother with them. They drove as close as they could to the school, about two miles away, then got out and began running toward it.
As they got closer, they could barely comprehend what they were seeing
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Marvin said. “My daughter was hysterical.”
Kaylee had somehow walked away from the devastation with a few bruises.
“We’re not angry at the school,” Marvin Dixon said. “But I want them to get something better for the next time because we can’t say this horrible thing won’t happen again. I want the kids to have a safer place to go in the future.”
Young girl was a ‘ball of love’
Angela Hornsby threw up her arms in frustration Monday as she sat at home watching a news anchor tell people to seek shelter underground. She doesn’t have a basement.
She wondered about her niece, Jenae Hornsby, a third-grader at Plaza Towers.
“I thought she was safe in school,” Hornsby said. But Jenae wasn’t. She died along with Kyle and their five other classmates.
Just last weekend, Hornsby’s 14-year-old daughter and Jenae and all of Jenae’s many cousins were at a park in Moore. They had just come from church. The girls were dressing up and joking around, wearing their aunt’s wig.
“They loved to dress up and dance to Beyonce, pretend they were Beyonce,” Angela Hornsby said. “They would tape each other with their phones and play it back.”
The 14-year-old is so upset about Jenae that she’s been throwing up and is at home in bed. “My daughter said to me, ‘I don’t want to sound crazy but maybe she’s gonna call me. Maybe Jenae’s not dead, Mom.’”
Angela doesn’t know how her brother — Jenae’s father, Joshua — is going to move forward.
Tuesday night, Joshua Hornsby, talking to CNN’s “AC360,” called his daughter “a ball of energy, a ball of love.”
“She was the best kid anybody could have,” he said.
He vowed to make “his baby proud and keep pushing on like I know she would want me to do.”
He never met a stranger
Christopher Legg “loved to play sports, and fight for justice,” an obituary posted on a cousin’s website said.
He also had been diagnosed with melanoma, skin cancer, and a condition that causes terrible knee pain.
The tough little 9-year old faced them with strength and enthusiasm, just as he lived his life.
“You were always always a friend in his eyes,” the tribute said.
He was a well-rounded athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. He also like to wrestle, to roughhouse with his Dad, his older brother and a sister.
Christopher, a third-grader, died at Plaza Towers Elementary.
Her mother was everything
Angeletta Santiago is struggling this week, too. Her mother, Tawuana Robinson, died in the storm.
“To lose her to something so devastating … it hurts,” Santiago told CNN affiliate KSDK.
Her mother called her just as the tornado was bearing down on her.
“She said ‘yes, the tornado has touched down. I am in my closet,’” Santiago recalled. “I love you.”
Robinson lived a block from Plaza Towers Elementary School. The phone line went dead.
Santiago tried to call her mother back but couldn’t get through. After hours passed, she went on Facebook and searched victim websites.
“I had hope and I prayed,” she said.
“I had a friend in my mother. I had a mother in my mom. I had a sister in my mom. I had everything a girl could want in a mom,” she said.
“My heart goes out to everybody … the babies, the mothers who will never be able to see their children again. I hope you’re healing.”
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