Family set to bury little girl crushed by tombstone cross

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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.

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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.

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