The family of a four-year-old girl who died after a 1,000-pound cross from a tombstone fell on her and her sister behind a church was set to face the grim task of burying her Monday night.
Peyton Elizabeth Townsend and her sister, Lily Grace Townsend, were playing with a group of children in the Deep Gap, N.C. church yard, which is also a cemetery, before class Friday night at Vacation Bible School. The cross, which authorities said weighs at least half a ton, struck the younger girl on her upper body. It also hit six-year-old Lily Grace Townsend on her leg and injured her slightly, Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Gary McClelland told The Associated Press.
The girl’s mother, Sarah, is a nurse, and her father, Randall, is a state trooper and paramedic. Both parents tried to save their daughter, who died at a medical center nearby.
“There are a lot of people hurting over this,” McClelland, who works with the girls’ father, told The Associated Press. He said he remembers Peyton as a “bubbly, giggly” child.
The Rev. Rick Cornejo said counselors will be helping the other children who witnessed the accident.
Peyton was born on Oct.31, 2007, according to her obituary, which says she loved bright colors, Barbie dolls, and playing dress-up with her sister.