A North Carolina teenager died on July 27 after her father’s horse bucked her off and kicked her in the head.
Medical staff declared Destiny Paige Stafford, a 15-year-old from Gastonia, North Carolina, brain dead after she was airlifted to Levine Children’s hospital following the fatal accident on July 25, reports the Gaston Gazette.
Stafford was riding her father’s horse at her aunt’s house when it suddenly threw her off, according to a family friend. When she tried to stand up, the animal kicked her in the back of the head.
Hundreds of the girl’s family and friends, clad in purple, the school color, gathered at her Stuart Cramer High School in Belmont, North Carolina, to pray for her and show their support at a vigil. The hashtags #TeamDestiny, #DestinyStrong, and #PrayForDestiny circulated social media along with tributes and prayers.
“Our hearts are heavy as we want our sweet Destiny to recover and return to our storm family,” high school principle Audrey Devine said, referencing the school mascot. “The power is in prayer. Our sweet Destiny needs us to be on our knees every day."
But at 1:17 a.m. on July 27 morning, Stafford was officially brain dead, her mother, Kelly Teague Stafford, wrote on Facebook.
“We have chosen to let her give someone else life by donating her organs so we will keep her on life support for now,” the heartbroken mother wrote. “Thank you to the thousands of people that have been praying for her. We know that God still answers prayers because thousands are praying somewhere else for their child to get her organs and they are receiving them. She would love this and we don’t want anyone to ever feel this pain.”
Stafford’s classmates fondly remember the junior varsity cheerleading co-captain as bright and energetic, notes The Charlotte Observer.
“I first met her at cheer tryouts,” said co-captain Desera Rajnes. “She made me feel at home right away.”
At the vigil, Devine read a letter from Destiny’s mother.
“Please let everyone know how much their love and prayer mean to our family,” the letter said. “I never knew how many lives our sweet daughter has touched.”