The Upshot

Toddler found in Indiana field after tornado kills her family

The Upshot

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Indiana State Tropers survey damage to Henryville, Ind., Saturday, March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

A toddler girl who was discovered in an Indiana field following Friday's devastating tornadoes is in critical condition at a Kentucky hospital, but she may be the only member of her family who survived.

Washington County Sheriff Claude Combs told ABC News that the girl was found in New Pekin, Ind. on Friday near the bodies of her 21-year-old mother, and her younger siblings. Reuters reports they were a 3-year-old brother and a 2-month-old sister. The body of a 20-year-old male was also recovered from the field but Combs didn't confirm whether he was the girl's father.

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Click image to view more photos. (REUTERS/Harrison McClary)

Click image to view more photos. (REUTERS/Harrison McClary)

The 2-year-old child, whose injuries have been undisclosed, is being attended by one unidentified family member at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Ky., said the hospital's chief of nursing, Cis Gruebbel, to ABC news.

After the child was discovered, she was first taken to a rural hospital in Salem, Ind. before being airlifted to the Kentucky hospital once she had stabilized. Melissa Richardson, a spokeswoman for St. Vincent Salem Hospital, told the Associated Press that authorities are trying to determine how the child wound up in the field, since her family lived about 10 miles south of where she was discovered.

Another dramatic rescue took place in Henryville, Ind., the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders, which is about 10 miles away from Marysville.

The twister approached right after the town's elementary, middle and high schools — which are all housed on the same campus — were dismissed early due to severe storm warnings.

Several school buses saw the tornado approaching and returned to school. According to NBC's Today show, 11 children on one of the buses made it into a school building just before the bus was thrown into another building. Several other empty buses were propelled hundreds of feet.

Glenn Riggs, the principal at Henryville Elementary School, told NBC's Today show that he and about 40 students and faculty found shelter at the school, lying on the floor of three small offices.

"There was like a decompression," Riggs said. "It felt almost like your skin was going to be peeled off your face and your ears popped. And of course people were a little upset — some of the children were upset.

"It was just crash, bang, break …" he said about what it was like when the twister struck. "We knew the school was going up around us, and then the ceilings began to fall apart, and it was like a dust in there for probably about a minute. And then it did stop."

Another school bus driver decided to pull over and ask a local resident to use their house to shelter the children.

"We got on the buses, we started heading to my house and the tornado was following us," one student said. "Luckily this woman was so generous to let us stay in her basement."

How to help tornado victims

Though the schools were almost completely destroyed, no injuries to either students or staff were reported.

The children who remained at the schools during the tornado were taken to the local Henryville community center, where they reunited with their parents.

The deadly storms, which stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, have killed at least 30 people in four states — Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Alabama — and destroyed two small towns in Indiana in the second deadly tornado to have occurred this week.

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