On Friday July 4, 2014, four-year-old Peyton Elizabeth Townsend was killed when a cross from a tombstone fell on her. Peyton and her 6-year-old sister, Lilly Grace Townsend, were both struck as the 5 foot, 1,000 lb cross fell. Lilly had a non life threatening leg injury; however, Peyton was struck in the head and crushed beneath it.
The accident occurred at 6:20 p.m. at Mount Paran Baptist Church located on Wildcat Road in Deep Gap, NC, after a Vacation Bible School class concluded and camp children played in the grassy cemetery area around the cemetery head stones.
Pastor Rick Cornejo stated his brother-in-law and his 16-year-old grandson were able to lift away the toppled headstone before rescue teams arrived, allowing rescue workers the ability to immediately start life support.
Peyton and her sister were with both of their parents at the time of the accident. The mother, Sarah Townsend, is a nurse and the father, Randall Townsend, is a state trooper and paramedic. Both worked to save Peyton until the rescue teams from the Deep Gap Volunteer Fire Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol arrived to take over.
Wings Air Rescue helicopter was able to land and airlift Peyton to the Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee. All attempts to revive Peyton were unsuccessful, and she was declared dead after arriving at the hospital.
Counseling and grief support for the family, friends and other estimated 20 children present were provided by the rescue respond team. All affected by the fatal accident were given support and access to grief counselors from Parkway School later during the day Friday, as well as the Saturday afternoon following Peyton’s death.
Funeral arrangements were held at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock on Monday July 7, 2014. Online condolences may be sent to the Townsend family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.
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Please NOTE: Kelly & West Attorneys, P.A. is not representing any parties involved in this case.
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