BEAUREGARD, Ala (WTVM) - Families of the four children who died in March third’s deadly tornadoes are having to tackle a difficult back-to-school season without their loved ones.
Shamel Hart and her cousin, Tyesha Hart say helping their other children get ready for school this year has been heartbreaking without eight-year-old Mykhayla and nine-year-old Jonathan tagging along.
Johnathan Bowen always loved picking out his backpack before school started.
“He always going to get some sort of Avengers backpack, whether Spiderman, Superman, Ironman, some type of man,” his mother, Shamel Hart, said.
Mykhayla Waldon liked girly school supplies.
“Glittery pink stuff, unicorns, the pretty stuff,” Her mom, Tyesha Hart, said. “She didn’t want the standard stuff.”
Mykhayla and Johnathan, as well as two other children, AJ Hernandez and Taylor Thornton, were killed in the deadly tornadoes that ripped across Lee County’s landscape March 3.
And while many families are cheerfully picking out new notebooks and backpacks before school starts, these four families are dealing with the painful reminder their loved ones will not be hopping on a school bus next week.
“It’s sad seeing his classmates moving on to the next level and he’s not,” Shamel Hart said.
“The only thing I was really able to do already was get book bags," Tyesha Hart said. "I’m just used to shopping for three. So shopping for two and not Mykhayla is hard.”
Mykhayla would be going into the fourth grade at Beauregard Elementary School. Johnathan would be a fifth grader at Loachapoka Elementary.
Shamel Hart and Tyesha Hart said certain memories of their children keep replaying in their minds.
“She was a diva," Tyesha Hart said. "I miss doing her hair, going to the nail salon, getting ready for school.”
“Him running home from the bus stop. That’s the hardest because he always had to be first," Shamel Hart said. "They were always racing.”
Now they say they’re just trying to stay strong for the sake of their other children. They urge everyone to hug their own children a little tighter today.
Lee County Schools will have counselors available for returning students who need help dealing with the loss of their classmates.
Shamel Hart and Tyesha Hart opened a dance studio in July in honor of their children. Click here to help support their cause.