Family members of Ronnie Bruce Sowders were gathering at the home of Ronnie’s mother, Maurine, on Upper Gibson Lane, before leaving to attend his funeral, when a second tragedy descended on the family.
Two-year-old Lilly May Mowen-Byrt, who lived in Fort Wayne, Ind., with her grandparents, was in town for the funeral when the accident occurred.
As a family member was backing into Maurine’s yard, the little girl darted into the path of the vehicle. She was taken to Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Maurine, Lilly’s great-great grandmother, described the child as a happy little girl, who was the light of her grandmother’s life.
“She’s in a better place,” Sowders said tearfully.
Middlesboro Police are investigating the incident and have announced that drug and alcohol use was not a factor in the tragedy, and no criminal charges are anticipated.
Family and friends say the driver of the vehicle is devastated.
“He wouldn’t hurt a flea,” said family friend Charlene Heck, “he’s a very good person.”
Lilly has been transported back to Fort Wayne where funeral arrangements are pending.
The family asks that the community keeps them in their prayers.
Lorie Settles is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.