Tales of bravery and heroism emerge at Oklahoma school

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on May 23, 2013 at 2:06 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 5:50 PM

MOORE, Oklahoma — Two schools took a direct hit in Monday's monster tornado near Oklahoma City.

Everyone survived the storm at Briarwood Elementary. Video from inside the school during the twister shows their survival is nothing less than miraculous as teachers are seen trying to comfort terrified children taking cover from the massive funnel cloud as it tore into the building.

They emerged to find the school had been decimated.

Amid the chaos and carnage... somewhere beyond heartbreak and ruin... beacons of bright light and stories of bravery emerge.

Kade and Kylie Janzen credit their mother, a teacher, Gina Janzen, with saving several students' lives — first by moving them from a hallway that later collapsed.

"They were supposed to be on this back wall," Kylie said. "But that wall's gone now, and she moved them to the bathroom."

Kylie said it was "amazing."

Young Kade said he survived falling debris by putting a dictionary over his head. "My mom told us to," he said.

Also among the brave: Cameron Dycus, a sixth grader who said through it all, he was unafraid.

"They told us to put our heads down, and I was next to a cabinet and the walls fell on any leg," he said. "But I was fine."

Cameron was conscientious enough to text his father, who he knew would be concerned.

"When he texted me that he was alive, that was the most thrilling feeling I ever had," Troy Dycus said.

Another relieved father, Brandon Lane, had two daughters inside Briarwood Elementary, which is now nearly impossible to recognize. Serena escaped with scrapes to her arm; Eva was saved, he said, by her teacher, Cindy Lowe.

"Walls fell in on top of her, and Ms. Lowe saved her life," Mr. Lane said.

Briarwood Elementary — where stories of heroes and bravery simply mirror the community of survivors.

While recovery in Moore is only beginning, the residents' grit and pride is in overdrive.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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