BLACKSHEAR, Georgia. – A 5-year-old girl from Pierce County, Ga. Died early Monday, hours after a stone monument she and her sister were playing on collapsed and fell on her.
The crash happened around 7:45 p.m. as Bella Bennett and her 8-year-old sister were playing at the Lee Street Resource Center in Blackshear, according to the Blackshear Police Department. Police Chief Chris Wright told News4Jax the older girl jumped off the monument, causing the 300-pound stone to tip over, landing on the younger sister.
The girl, who had just started kindergarten at Blackshear Elementary School, was rushed to hospital and then airlifted to Wolfson Children’s Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 3:45 a.m. on Monday, the chief said.
A man who said he was trying to help save Bella didn’t want to give his name.
“The dad was down the whole time trying to take that slab off him and he couldn’t,” he said. “I tried to lift him up so he could take it out and we couldn’t.”
It ultimately took three men to move the slab, which covered half of the little girl’s body.
Police said the two sisters lived with their grandmother about a block from the Lee Street Resource Center.
The photos show only one bolt in the fallen monument. Police said they would investigate how this tragedy happened.
Priests, deacons and community members gathered at the site Monday afternoon to honor and remember Bella.
“This community needs you, O Lord,” prayed one of the mourners. “We need you, Lord, like we’ve never needed you before.”
Mandy Williams, assistant principal at Blackshear Elementary, said Bella loves animals, especially horses. But most of all, she liked to play with her sister.
“It was one of her favorite things to do,” said Williams, who has known Bella since she started kindergarten. “We are family. Our school is a family and the nation of Pierce County is suffering right now. Pray for their families. Right now, that’s what they need most, is your prayers.
When asked about her favorite memory of Bella, Williams said she remembers how happy she was to be in school.
“I would stand in the great kindergarten room,” Williams said. “I would say, ‘There’s Bella.’ She is so excited to see me. Can’t you see how horny she is and she would kind of be depressed then you could tell she was happy to be there.
Asked for comment, the Resource Center said his attorney would send a statement, which will be added to this story when provided.
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