Mother-In-Law Of Heroic Oklahoma Teacher Shares Story Of Survival

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

WELLESLEY (CBS) – A Wellesley woman is recognizing the bravery of her daughter-in-law, an Oklahoma school teacher who shielded her students from the devastation of Monday’s tornado.

Karen Marinelli, a first grade teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary School, has one of the miraculous stories of survival. “It was like hell crashing down and we just started to hear glass break,” she said from her hospital bed. Her mother-in-law, Maureen Marinelli, says Karen sent texts to her son Dominic, and he knew she was alive. “She texted him to say, ‘I love you’ and ‘help me’, and then it hit. She texted one more time saying I think my legs are broken.”

Her pelvis was broken along with her lower back, and her ankles were sprained. “A huge, huge thing crashed down on me and landed on my back,” said Karen Marinelli who had gone to her designated spot with the warning to take cover, using her teacher’s instinct with her young students.

“Two of them were crying and she was trying to comfort them,” said her mother-in-law. “When she didn’t hear the third one, she was worried about him.” They were frantic hours in Wellesley as Maureen Marinelli waited for word, while watching the images unfold on television.

“I’m still in shock, I haven’t thought in terms of a miracle. I have not been able to wrap my head around it.” It is a story of bravery in the midst of such devastation. Karen Marinelli’s three students survived where seven others did not. Her family is providing strength. “We can only move forward from here, we can’t move back.”

Karen Marinelli was moved to a rehabilitation hospital where she’ll spend the next six weeks.

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