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'I didn't want her to suffer any longer': Kentucky infant injured during tornado taken off life support

Baby Oaklynn was pulled off life support after swelling to her brain worsened, her father said.

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. — A baby girl is the latest casualty in the deadly tornado rampage that ripped through western Kentucky.

The family of two-month-old Oaklynn confirmed she died from her injuries at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville early Monday morning. She and her family were hiding in the bathroom when they were sucked out and blown across the street by strong winds.

Initial medical test results for Oaklynn showed no problems but after she kept grunting and seemed sleepier following her discharge from Baptist Health Deaconess in Madisonville, a second test found bleeding to the brain, according to her father Douglas Koon.

Koon drove his three children and wife Jackie from their mobile home to his mother-in-law’s house in Dawson Springs for better security the night of the tornado. He kept Oaklynn strapped to her car seat as the entire family hunkered in the bathroom.

“We felt it was more protection for her,” Koon said. “Then all of a sudden as if time stood still. It felt like you were being tossed around like a rag doll in a sack. It felt somebody was standing and hitting me with a baseball repeatedly and you can’t hear anything but destruction.

Everyone was thrown from the home on Crawford Lane and landed across the street. Koon painstakingly tended to each member of his family including his mother-in-law, 11-year-old son Bentley with autism and 4-year-old son Dallas who were buried in debris. Dallas had bleeding from his head and sent to Indiana for treatment but has since been released.

Credit: Douglas Koon
Dallas Koon

His mother-in-law had a big gash to her forehand and was twisted with wood and metal.

A stranger helped drive them from the scene to a nearby school for aid. Roads were packed with debris it was hard for first responders to get to hard-hit areas.

All seemed well with Oaklynn during their first hospital visit aside from minor cuts and scratches.

“Her heart rate and blood pressure were fine, CT scan results were fine, and the x-rays looked fine,” Koon said. “Then later she was getting up and making grunting noises and something not right with her, so my wife took her back.”

The second test results later in the day revealed a more dire situation and forced Oaklynn to transfer to Louisville. Her conditions worsened overnight as internal bleeding contributed to the brain injury, the family said. Doctors told them she was going to be brain dead for the rest of her life, but likely would not pull through because her brain kept swelling.

Koon and his wife made the tough decision to pull her off the ventilator.

Credit: Douglas Koon

“I don't want to see my child suffer any longer than they have to because of me just trying to hold on to something that's not there,” Koon said. “I’m grateful to have at least two months. She was the cutest baby ever and had the biggest smile and most beautiful eyes.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe prior to Oaklynn’s death. To learn how to help, click on this link.

As of Sunday, 13 people died in Dawson Springs, a population of 2,500. The staggering devastation is widespread in the community, which is the hometown of Governor Andy Beshear’s father.

Hopkins County is one of four counties in Kentucky to see death tolls in the double digits, according to Beshear.

RELATED: How to help Western Kentucky families following historic tornado outbreak

Credit: Douglas Koon

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