El Mirage church members grieving loss of 11-year-old girl killed in head-on crash
EL MIRAGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- El Mirage church members are grieving after an 11-year-old girl was killed and three others were hurt after a horrific crash. Family and friends gathered at Life Spring Church on Thursday night to hold a vigil for Arianna Gannon and pray for her two sisters and another church member still in the hospital.
Pastor Barry Sappington says the three Gannon sisters and the children’s director, Maggie Suggs, were in the car when they were hit head-on by a pickup truck on El Mirage Road on Wednesday evening. Suggs was driving the three girls after getting lunch, and the group was headed back to the church to set up for vacation Bible school.
Sappington says they are still trying to comprehend the tragedy. “It’s horrific. I can’t, I still today am still on the verge of tears every time I talk about it. It’s like we can’t wrap our brains around it. How do you account for that loss? And the loss, it was so unnecessary,” he said.
Police say 28-year-old Adrian Ballesteros was fighting with his girlfriend when he yanked the steering wheel while she was driving. She then lost control of the pickup truck, jumped the median and crossed into oncoming traffic. The truck then hit the car carrying the three Gannon sisters and Suggs. Arianna was ejected from the car and rushed to the hospital but later died. “In a moment, our precious little Arianna was gone,” said Sappington.
Sappington says the other two Gannon sisters, Angelina and Annaliese, are expected to be OK. He added Suggs survived but is having surgery and will be in the hospital for a while. “My flesh just wants to cry out. Like not just anger, a moment of such disappointment that we’re in that kind of life now where rage and anger in a domestic situation can cause the loss of a precious 11-year-old. That to me is injustice,” he said.
Lisa Gomez is the prayer pastor at the church and says that many are hurting after the accident. “Because of his anger problems, this family is suffering, all of us are suffering. Now, his family will suffer and the lady who was driving is going to suffer. Everyone is going to suffer because of this man’s split decision of selfish anger,” said Gomez.
Leeandra Corless is another church member who has known Suggs for 30 years. She says Suggs is taking the news hard about Arianna’s death. “She just found out about the little one passing so she is besides herself. This is really hard for all of the families involved,” said Corless. “...was gonna take them home, and tragedy happened, and it just its hard on her. It’s hard on all the families involved right now... it’s sad.”
A counselor was at the vigil to help the community deal with the loss. If you would like to donate to the Gannon family, click/tap here. As for Ballesteros, he has been booked into jail on one count of manslaughter and five counts of endangerment.
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