Georgia father hails outpouring of support after daughter, 20, killed in ‘freak accident’ at rodeo event

Breanna Chatwick was struck by a gate at a rodeo event in Chatsworth

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A Georgia father has told Fox News Digital Thursday that more than 1,000 people turned up at his 20-year-old daughter’s funeral after she was killed last week in what he described as a "freak accident" at a rodeo event. 

Breanna Chadwick died on July 8 after being struck by a swinging gate that a horse ran into during a series of events organized by the Murray County Saddle Club in Chatsworth, according to her father. Heath Chadwick said the incident occurred after a rider lost control of their horse in the arena and Breanna – who normally attends to cheer on her sister and others – sprang into action. 

"This night – people yell, 'Close the gate!’ and she runs to grab the gate to close it to keep the horse from running out and running over people or different things is what we are pretty sure was in her mind," Heath Chadwick told Fox News Digital. "And when she did, instead of the horse stopping, it ran through the gate and the impact and the force of a 1,400-pound horse as it comes through at 30 plus miles per hour – the gate came across and hit her and that is what did the damage." 

Breanna Chadwick, of Canton, was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee

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Breanna Chadwick, top left, is survived by her parents, Kristy and Heath, and her sister Kristen, her obituary says.

Breanna Chadwick, top left, is survived by her parents, Kristy and Heath, and her sister Kristen, her obituary says. (Courtesy Heath Chadwick)

"After a lot of tears and heavy considerations we have spoken with a member of the Chadwick family. At their request the shows will go on and [the] parade," the Murray County Saddle Club said in a Facebook post on Friday. "Let’s all bow our heads and remember this young lady and the family in the coming days ahead." 

Heath Chadwick said more than 1,000 people turned up at his daughter's funeral on Wednesday, where children and parents approached his family and "talked about how much Breanna had touched them, or how much they loved Breanna." 

He described his daughter – who was attending Reinhardt University in hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher – as having a "gift with small children." 

"One time at a local hardware store, we are up there and getting feed for my other daughter’s horse and this little special needs kid – probably 4 years old – comes across, just runs, knocks us out of the way and runs straight to Breanna. We never saw this kid, didn’t know anything about it," Chadwick recalled to Fox News Digital. 

Breanna Chadwick, her obituary says, was "attending Reinhardt University to be a 3rd grade teacher."

Breanna Chadwick, her obituary says, was "attending Reinhardt University to be a 3rd grade teacher." (Courtesy Heath Chadwick)

"He’s hugging her, talking to her, communicating to her the best he can and the mom and dad come across, they are in tears, it hit them so hard because he has never done that before... he never went to anybody like that, and it was just things like that with Breanna happened oh so much," he added. 

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A GoFundMe has been set up in Breanna Chadwick’s honor to cover funeral and medical expenses and Heath Chadwick says additional funds are being used to create a scholarship and to provide book donations to local schools, as that is what his daughter would have wanted. 

Breanna Chadwick is survived by her parents, sister, and other relatives, her obituary says.