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Mom in enduring image: 'God's arms around' 8-year-old daughter

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 6:15 p.m.
LaTisha Garcia carries her 8-year-old daughter, Jazmin Rodriguez, on Monday, May 20, near Plaza Towers Elementary School.

MOORE, Okla. — The picture was published on hundreds of front pages around the world, becoming one of the lasting pictures from the tornado.

On Monday, as the vast storm was carving its way through town, there was no time to hesitate. LaTisha Garcia had to get to her children.

And so she raced against the storm. She had 30 miles to cover from her job in Edmond to Plaza Towers Elementary School, where her 8-year-old daughter Jazmin Rodriguez is a third grader.

She lost. The tornado got there first. She knew her three youngest children were safe at their daycare, but Jazmin was somewhere inside the rubble.

“Right when I ran up to ask if I could start pulling people out or try to help, some guy just handed her to me,” Garcia said. “I only recognized her from her clothes. My mind was in so many different places, I couldn't even remember what she wore that day.”

Finally, relief.

The emotion seared on her face, she scooped her daughter into her arms and set off across the now-barren landscape away from the place where seven of Jazmin's schoolmates had died.

“It was a long way toward the end of the parking lot,” Garcia recalled. “And she's a heavy girl. There were times I didn't think I was going to make it. But I did.”

Jazmin ended up with bumps and bruises, but no long-lasting injuries from the ordeal.

“I know she definitely had God's arms around her to walk out of there,” Garcia said.

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