The state of Missouri is mourning the loss of one of its shining stars. 12-year-old Kalee Chandler passed away on Monday (May 23) following a horrific barrel racing accident two days prior.
WGN TV reports Kalee was participating in a barrel race organized as a benefit for veterans in honor of Armed Forces Day. Despite her young age, Chandler excelled at barrel racing, which requires a high level of skill.
During the competition on Saturday, Kalee started to run her horse back from the third barrel when he unexpectedly sped up. Chandler tried to pull him up, but he crashed into the gates, leaving Kalee pinned underneath.
Kalee's family friend Toni Samples saw the whole thing unfold, and said they struggled to get Kalee free. "They finally got her out from underneath him, the saddle off, and they pulled her out and she was pretty lifeless," she said.
The event was shut down and Kalee was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where she passed away on Monday. Several reports, including one by The Kansas City Star, say the accident occurred because Kalee's horse, who also died, had a heart attack, which caused him to hit the fence. Bates County Sheriff Chad Anderson confirmed this, saying "at the end of the run, the horse had a medical issue and hit the fence."
Ruth Walter, who organized the barrel racing event, knows nothing could have been done to stop the accident from occurring. Still, she can't help but get choked up whenever she thinks of what happened to Kalee.
"There's no way it could have been prevented," she said. "I'm tearing myself up, I can't sleep at night, thinking... what could we have done to prevent it? You just can't."
Kalee's entire community will certainly miss the multi-talented girl, who Sheriff Anderson described as "excellent in everything she did." Funeral arrangements for Kalee are pending at this time, but you can leave her family your condolences on the Mullinax Funeral Home and Cremation Services website.
The Kansas City Star also reports that a fund called the Kalee Chandler Love Fund has been established for the Chandler family to help with expenses. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 407, Butler, Mo. 64730.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kalee's family and friends during this sad time.
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