PEMISCOT COUNTY, MO (AP) — Trey and Meghan Rackley and their three daughters sought shelter in a windowless bathroom in their southeast Missouri home as storms raged across the country's midsection.

To prove they were in their "safe place" as the storm approached Friday evening, the girls' mom texted her Aunt Sandy a photo of the three in and next to the bathtub — all of them smiling, 9-year-old Annistyn holding her favorite doll.

Fifteen minutes later, Sandra Hooker said, a tornado splintered the home, carrying the family members dozens of yards through the air into a field where first responders found them in mud. Annistyn, a third-grader who loved swimming, dancing and cheerleading, died. She was one of dozens killed in five states.

Hooker called Annistyn Rackley a "special angel," describing the girl as outgoing and energetic despite a rare liver condition that required regular doctor's visits.

Hooker teaches gifted students at the same elementary school where Meghan Rackey teaches kindergarten in Caruthersville, which is nestled next to the Mississippi River in what's known as Missouri's Bootheel region.

Hooker's account of what happened to the Rackleys came from talking to law enforcement, medical personnel and first responders who were at the scene after the tornado and found family members in the field.

Hooker also said she's talked to the girl's father and the photo of Annistyn holding her doll in the bathtub was texted to Hooker by the girl's mother.

Hooker said that Annistyn Rackley's family hadn't yet unpacked from their move on December 4 from Caruthersville to their new home along Highway J, to the west.

She said she talked to the girl's mother, Meghan Rackey, Friday afternoon about the possibility of bad storms.

Hooker is the sister of Meghan Rackley's grandmother, and she said she and Annistyn grew close over the past four years. Meghan Rackey also taught kindergarten at the same elementary school and brought Annistyn, or Anni, early.

Her father, Trey Rackley, a 37-year-old trucking company dispatcher, suffered cuts and bruises and remains sore and sometimes in shock, Hooker said. But he and the youngest daughter, 3-year-old Alanna — Little Lani — are no longer hospitalized.

Hooker said Meghan Rackley's injuries included broken bones, a brain injury and a large cut, and she's asking people to pray for the 32-year-old mother. The middle child, 7-year-old Avalinn, or Ava, had broken vertebrae in her back and was expected to undergo surgery Wednesday, Hooker said.