Pierce County

Child dies after being crushed by monument in southeast Georgia

BLACKSHEAR, Ga. — It’s a heartbreaking day in the Blackshear community.

Five-year-old Bella Bennett passed away early Monday morning after a monument toppled onto her. Police said she had been playing on it with her 8-year-old sister.

“The older sibling was playing on the monument, and at some point, the monument tipped over and fell onto the 5-year-old,” Blackshear Police Chief Chris Wright said.

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Police said she had severe internal injuries and was rushed to the hospital Sunday night. She was later airlifted to Wolfson Children’s Hospital but died early Monday morning.

Bennett’s grandfather came by the site in the afternoon to place a couple of toys and a candle beside the spot, where the monument has since been removed.

He said it was too heavy for him to pick up. That’s when neighbors stepped in.

“It was a sad situation. It was more like everybody trying to help the little girl,” one neighbor said.

The neighbor also said her uncle tried to help Bennett.

“I really felt bad for my uncle. He tried his best. He was the one that gave the CPR,” the same neighbor said.

It was too late.

Blackshear Elementary School Assistant Principal Mandy Williams said the community is in shock.

“She had just a loving, giving spirit and (was) a sweetheart. She’s going to be missed so much by Blackshear Elementary,” Williams said.

A tragic accident like this hits home for some.

“It could have happened to anybody. It could have happened to my kids. This is very emotional, to be honest with you,” a neighbor said.

Monday afternoon, folks gathered for a prayer vigil around the site of the monument.

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Williams said Bennett’s school has reached out to the family offering any help they may need.

Police said the Consolidated Men’s Club owns the property the monument stood on. According to pictures of the monument, it was placed there in 1989.

Police said the incident is under investigation, but no charges have been filed.

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