A 12-year-old Missouri girl died May 23 after suffering injuries in a weekend riding accident.
Kalee Chandler was participating in a barrel race at a rodeo in Bates County, according to media reports.
“She was running on the way home from the third barrel, and he kind of sped up, which is kind of unusual at the finish line, and she was trying to pull him up,” family friend Toni Samples told WDAF.
“At the end of the run, the horse had a medical issue and hit the fence,” Bates County Sheriff Chad Anderson told The Kansas City Star.
Media reports suggest the horse had a heart attack. It fell on top of Kalee and crushed her.
It took some time before the horse could be removed, and Kalee appeared lifeless. Paramedics gave her CPR and she was taken to the hospital.
Kalee had just completed sixth grade and was headed for middle school after the summer break.
“Everybody is very somber right now,” Darin Carter of Butler Schools told the Star. “It’s a horrible tragedy that is going to stick with our school district and our community for a long time.”
Kalee had been barrel racing for years, and enjoyed taking part in the sport. Local residents said the incident was a freak accident that nobody could have predicted.
The broader community has also been deeply affected.
“They have deep roots in Bates County,” local resident Alan Mundey said of the Chandler family, according to KCTV.
“When something like this hits your community you're just stunned, you're just stunned. I think everybody woke up this morning and the first thought was, ‘How's Kalee doing?’” he added.
The news that Kalee had succumbed to her injuries came at approximately 5 p.m. on May 23.
“It really hit home for me,” said Tonya Williams, who works at a local radio station.
The radio station and local bank are involved in fundraising activities to support the Chandler family.
“You have to be there for the parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. So it doesn't just affect you directly, but as a mom it affects you the most directly,” Williams added.
The Kalee Chandler Love Fund has been set up to assist the family with medical costs and other expenses.