MOORE, Okla. – Edith Morales, 53, continues to heal from the injuries she suffered May 20, 2013.
She is one of the survivors of the Moore tornado.
Morales took cover in the 7-11 convenience store at the corner of SW 4th and Telephone Road on May 20th and was critically injured when the tornado destroyed the building.
Terri Long, 49, Megan Futrell, 29, and Case Futrell, four months, lost their lives at the gas station, but there were survivors: Briana Bellman, E.H. Pittman, Athena Howard and Edith Morales.
Morales’ injuries were among the most critical that day.
Her spine was broken, but her spirit was not.
Morales spent 125 days recovering at Integris Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
Now, Edith lives each day grateful for those who sacrificed for her safety in those first few moments.
Sarah Southward, 24, held Morales’ hand while she waited for an ambulance to take her to the hospital on May 20th.
“I knew that if the ambulance didn’t get there fast enough that she was losing blood, and she needed to be on her way to the hospital.” Southward said.
Southward lived just two blocks from the 7-11.
“You can lose everything in a moment; just like that. One minute we were standing in the street looking at the clouds and the next moment we were digging people out of the 7-11. In a matter of 20 minutes, that’s all it takes to lose everything.” said Southward.
Almost one year after the tornado, Morales traveled back to the 7-11 for the first time.
She met with Sarah Southward and the Oklahoma City Police officer who coordinated the rescue and recovery efforts at 7-11 on May 20th.
Major Brian Jennings can still remember how badly Edith’s body had been brutalized by the storm.
“I could tell it was bad.” Jennings remembered. “She had severe head wounds. I don’t remember her being conscious at all. I just remember her moaning.”
Jennings and Southward were re-introduced to each other.
Their first face-to-face meeting since May 20th.
They both say they have thought of each other often in the past twelve months, praying for healing and restoration for all of the families with ties to the 7-11.
The reunion was emotional for Edith.
“I just wished everybody could have made it that day.” said Edith through tears.
The trio, along with Edith’s daughter, Christina Morales, and Edith’s sister, Janet Rudolph, walked across the parking lot to the slab where the 7-11 once stood.
The trip was more difficult that they had imagined.
“This is hard to come out here. I went through a lot of things to get back to feeling good again.” said Edith. “It took (Sarah Southward) and Officer Jennings and a lot of people who helped save me that day. I am very grateful. I truly am.”
Morales is wearing all of her rings on her right hand because the left is still healing.
However, there is one sentimental piece of jewelry missing; her late husband’s wedding band.
It was lost on May 20th.
It has been almost one year since the ring went missing, and Edith is still hopeful she might spot it somewhere on the property.
Edith has learned to hope for the impossible.
“I feel blessed that I’m here. It’s tragic for the ones who aren’t. That’s what bothers me.” said Morales.
Her wounds are mending, but the pain of that place and that horrible day is still very fresh.
E.H. Pittman is receiving an award for his life-saving bravery on May 20th from the Oklahoma City Police Department this week.
Bri Bellman is pregnant! She is expecting her first child sometime this fall.
Follow Edith Morales’ progress since May 20, 2013: