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 Elizabeth Nicole “Nikki” <I>Bradshaw</I> Carpenter

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Elizabeth Nicole “Nikki” Bradshaw Carpenter

  • Birth 30 Mar 1979
  • Death 24 Apr 2010 Yazoo City, Yazoo County, Mississippi, USA
  • Burial Dover, Yazoo County, Mississippi, USA
  • Memorial ID 51734080

Elizabeth Carpenter

31, died Saturday, April 24, 2010, at home. (Stricklin-King, 662-746-4532).

Published April 28, 2010.
The Clarion-Ledger

Nikki Carpenter - A Mom And Savior
By Rick Cleveland, April 28, 2010
The Clarion-Ledger

YAZOO CITY — Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Not all fight wars, arrest thugs, hit home runs or score touchdowns.

Nikki Bradshaw Carpenter of Yazoo City was a petite 5 feet 5 and weighed no more than 115 pounds. She was blonde-haired, with big brown eyes. She was a mother of three.

She was a country girl, who liked to go to dirt track races. She loved her three boys. Saturday, when the wicked tornado ravaged central Mississippi, she gave up her life to save them. She was 31.

"Nobody who knew Nikki and how much she loved those young'uns is surprised by what she did," said James Bradshaw of Florence, Nikki's father. "She loved those boys till her last breath."

The mobile home in which Nikki Bradshaw lived with her three sons was picked up and heaved more than a 100 yards by the 170 mph winds. Neighbors who first found the mangled mobile home heard the cries of the boys - Layne, 7, Ethan, 2, and Austin, 1. The three were found bruised, but alive, their mother's arm around them.

Layne, the 7-year-old first-grader, has since told his grandfather what happened.

Said James Bradshaw, "Layne said his mama received a call from someone that a storm was coming. So she took the three boys to the hallway, covered them with pillows and then got on top of them to protect them."

Layne's left hand was broken. Ethan, the middle child, needed surgery to repair his lacerated right ear. Austin, the baby, was hurt least of all.

First responders, who flew in by helicopter, said it appeared Nikki had died of a broken back and broken neck. Bradshaw says he hasn't heard the results of a planned autopsy.

"Layne told me he knew right away his mama was dead," James Bradshaw said. "He said he heard his little brothers were calling out for her and when she didn't answer he knew she was gone because she always answered when they called."

The two youngest children don't understand that their mother isn't coming back, the grandfather said.

"They cry for her all the time," Bradshaw said. "We've taken the pictures of her in the house down for the time being."

Nikki and her husband, Dennis Carpenter, Jr., had been separated for more than a year, James Bradshaw said. James Bradshaw and his wife, Garlaina, have temporary custody of the boys. A custody hearing was scheduled for this morning, Bradshaw said.

"Nikki had told us many times that if anything ever happened to her, please take care of her children," James Bradshaw said. "We plan to."

'Loved those kids'
Nikki Carpenter had quit her job as a postal carrier so she could stay at home with the children. A graduate of Yazoo City High School and Holmes Community College, she was planning to pursue a nursing degree in the next couple of years, Bradshaw said.

Elizabeth King of Yazoo City, a friend of Nikki's since both were in their early teens, described Nikki as "the friendliest person I ever knew. She was cheerful, always smiling.

"She didn't have much, but what she had she would give you," King continued. "She pretty much took me in when I didn't have a job. I baby-sat for her all the time. Oh, she loved those kids. Their daddy wasn't in the picture much so she'd play ball with Layne, take them fishing. They were her life."

At the Bradshaws' home in Florence on Tuesday afternoon, Garlaina Bradshaw was putting Austin, the baby, down for a nap, while 2-year-old Ethan, with his heavily bandaged ear and legs, showed visitors his toy six-shooter. Layne, the eldest, has a black eye from storm injuries and wears a cast on his injured hand. But he smiled and shook hands with this visitor.

Meanwhile, the Bradshaws' doorbell kept ringing with neighbors and members of their church bringing by toys, clothes, food, diapers and more.

"I can't begin to tell you how good people have been to us," James Bradshaw said.

Funeral services are set for 2 p.m. Thursday at Stricklin-King Funeral Home in Yazoo City. Visitation will be at 1 p.m. with burial in Holmes Cemetery on Dover Road near Little Yazoo.

James Bradshaw said an education fund has been established at Copiah Bank in each of the boys' names.

"Their education was really important to Nikki," Bradshaw said. "We are asking that if people want to, they can donate to the boys' education instead of flowers. There's no doubt that's what Nikki would want."

Elizabeth King, the long-time friend, agreed.

"Like I say, she didn't have much, but she had them and they had her," King said.

"Nikki and I, we could talk about anything," King continued. "She told me many times that she would be glad to die to save any one of her boys. She died for them all."


Yazoo mother dies so kids might live
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 11:07 AM CDT
Greenwood Commonwealth

There have been many frightening, sad and inspiring stories told in the aftermath of the tornado last weekend that cut a wide gash through central Mississippi.

The story of Nikki Bradshaw Carpenter of Yazoo City encompasses all the emotions.

There have been a couple of versions of Carpenter's heroism floating around, but Rick Cleveland of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger provides what appears to be the definitive account.

As the tornado, packing 170 mph winds, approached the mobile home where Carpenter lived with her three sons, ages 7 to 1, she huddled them into the hallway, covered them with pillows and then lay on top of them to provide a human shield -- all 5-foot-5, 115 pounds of her.

In that terrifying moment, her maternal instincts overruled what is supposed to be mankind's most powerful drive -- self-preservation. Someone was going to die when the tornado tossed that trailer into the air. Carpenter made sure it was her and not her children. When the family was found amid the wreckage, the three boys were bruised but alive, their lifeless mother's arm still around them.

It's a tragic but also beautiful picture, underscoring the awesome power and self-sacrificing nature of a mother's love.


Relatives: Tornado victim lost life shielding sons

By SHELIA BYRD, Associated Press Writer Shelia Byrd, Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. – Nikki Bradshaw Carpenter was tough: she could kill a deer and skin it. But when it came to her three sons, the 31-year-old mother was a nurturer and a protector.

Thus, friends and family say it came as no surprise to learn Carpenter had lost her life trying to shield her children from last weekend's killer tornado.

Rodney Bradshaw, her cousin, said he found Carpenter pinned by two collapsed walls, a washing machine and a refrigerator. Two of her sons were beneath her; a third at her feet. All three children survived.

On Thursday, a funeral was held for Carpenter, one of the 10 Mississippi victims of the severe weather system that kicked up tornadoes around the South and also left two dead in Alabama.

James Bradshaw said his daughter was just 5-foot-5 and slim, but had a powerhouse personality.

"I don't think she's met anybody that she wouldn't talk to," Bradshaw said. "I used to take her hunting and fishing. She killed a deer this past season, hung the deer, skinned it and cut it up and put it in the freezer. She was very feisty."

Bentonia Police Chief Edward Ferrell said an investigation supports the account of Carpenter's final moments given by family members. Ferrell and other local emergency officials responded to calls by those hit hard by the storm's rampage through Yazoo County.

Moments before the twister barreled down the rural road where she lived in a mobile home, Carpenter's phone rang with a warning about the storm.

"We don't know who called. We never recovered the phone. Whoever it was saved them," said James Bradshaw, whose oldest grandson told him about the call.

Hoping to preserve precious memories, Carpenter pulled family photographs from the wall. Then, she grabbed the boys, piled pillows on top of them and covered them with her body. The twister lifted the trailer in the air like a paperclip, throwing it more than 100 yards, said Rodney Bradshaw.

The boys sustained some bruises. Bradshaw said his oldest grandson told him about her final minutes.

When Rodney Bradshaw, arrived at the scene, he said the sight was jarring: "The two littlest ones were under her. The oldest one was at her feet. I still can't get her face out of my head."

For now, Nicholas Layne, 7; Ethan, 2; and Austin, 1, are in the care of James Bradshaw, who lives in Florence, a small town southeast of Jackson.

He said a memorial service will be held for Carpenter in his hometown on May 8.

  • Created by: Ron Collins
  • Added: 28 Apr 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 51734080
  • Ron Collins
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Elizabeth Nicole “Nikki” Bradshaw Carpenter (30 Mar 1979–24 Apr 2010), Find A Grave Memorial no. 51734080, citing Central Holmes Cemetery, Dover, Yazoo County, Mississippi, USA ; Maintained by Ron Collins (contributor 14149965) .