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4-Year-Old Girl Dies After Cross From Tombstone Falls Onto Her

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File photo of cemetary. (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

File photo of cemetary. (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

DEEP GAP, N.C. (AP) — A funeral will be held Monday for a 4-year-old girl who died after the cross from a tombstone fell on her and her older sister while they played before vacation Bible school.

The funeral for Peyton Elizabeth Townsend will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock. She died Friday while playing in the cemetery at Mount Paran Baptist Church.

Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Gary McClelland says the cross struck 6-year-old Lilly Grace Townsend on a leg and injured her slightly. He says the cross, which he thinks weighed between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds, struck the younger girl on the upper body.

The girl’s mother, Sarah, is a nurse, and her father, Randall, is a state trooper and paramedic. Both worked to save Peyton, who died at Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee.

“There are a lot of people hurting over this,” said McClelland, who works with the girls’ father and remembers Peyton as a “bubbly, giggly” child.

The Rev. Rick Cornejo said counselors will be at Mount Paran to help other children who witnessed the accident.

Cornjeo said children were burning off energy before class began Friday night by running around in the church’s backyard, which doubles as a small cemetery. About two dozen people are buried there.

Peyton was born on Oct. 31, 2007, according to her obituary, which says she loved bright colors and Barbie dolls and playing dress-up with her sister.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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