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Girl, 9, killed in Missouri tornado; community rallies around family

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:46 AM CST
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CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (KAIT/Gray News) – Hundreds stood hand in hand with the whisper of the wind on their cheeks as tears streamed down. Only the faint sounds of prayers being lifted could be heard.

“Lord, be with the nurses and doctors,” the Pemiscot County Sheriff Tommy Greenwell could be heard saying as he stood in a group of 200-plus people at Reynolds Park along the Mississippi River.

He joined the hundreds who gathered on a crisp Sunday afternoon to remember the life of a 9-year-old girl killed in Friday’s deadly tornadoes, KAIT reported.

Annistyn Rackley was at home with her mom Meghan, her dad Trey and her two younger sisters when the tornado hit their home just east of Braggadocio.

Annistyn, 9, right, is shown here with her younger sisters. The family's home was hit by a...
Annistyn, 9, right, is shown here with her younger sisters. The family's home was hit by a massive tornado on Friday night.(Stephanie Greenwell)

“The loss, it is exponential,” Mandi Alexander, a long-time friend of Meghan Rackley’s, said. “There are no words.”

As the wind whipped across her face, she remembered the young girl who had overcome so many obstacles in her short life.

“Annistyn was bubbly,” Alexander said. “She was the best kid. She was the strongest kid.”

The Rackley family is no stranger to the community. KAIT met them and Annistyn in 2012 when the community first rallied around them.

She had a rare liver disease known as biliary atresia. Their hometown of Caruthersville soon came together to help raise money for the Rackleys’ medical expenses.

While the community mourns the death of Annistyn, they are praying for her mother. According to the family, Meghan Rackley has “catastrophic” injuries. She is in the hospital with brain damage, several broken bones, and her lungs collapsed during a recent surgery.

“Our family believes in a God of miracles, and that is why we are here today, to ask God for a miracle and give us a miracle for Meghan,” said Meghan Rackley’s aunt, Sandra Hookers.

Annistyn’s sisters are improving, but they have a long road ahead of them. According to Hookers, one of the girls is expected to be released from the hospital Monday, while the other will undergo surgery on Sunday for a broken back.

“If you could have seen what my family looked like with the mud everywhere, in their hair, the bruises, the scrapes,” Hookers said.

“I am so glad I had time with here,” Hooker said about her time with Annistyn. “I am glad she was in my life. I loved her and she loved me, in a very big way.”

Meghan Rackley is a kindergarten teacher in Caruthersville. The school is closed on Monday.

A GoFundMe is set up for the family.

Copyright 2021 KAIT via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.