In Hardin, support grows for family of young girl struck by train

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 6:19 PM CDT
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HARDIN, Mo. (KCTV) - A growing display of flowers and small gifts now sits near the train tracks where a young girl was killed Saturday.

The child, just a few weeks from turning 2 years old, was hit by a train. Her parents, Daylea and Hunter, told KCTV5 her name was Harper.

They described her as a vibrant, energetic child with a beaming smile.

“Harper was a happy baby,” Daylea said. “She loved everybody.

The memorial included bouquets and some of Harper’s favorite toys. One person left a Happy Meal, Harper’s favorite.

“Our little girl is up there smiling at us, every heart she touched,” Hunter said. “She had a smile for everybody.”

Hunter and Daylea asked KCTV5 to withhold their last names and blur their faces, concerned about a number of threatening social media comments and posts questioning what happened to Harper. The incident is still under investigation, and the family did not wish to share the details of the incident.

“Harper was very adventurous. She never wanted to do anything alone. She never wanted help. I don’t blame anyone,” Daylea said, adding that she was praying for the train’s operator.

Ray County Sheriff Scott Childers said he and other first responders who were at the scene on Saturday were deeply impacted by the loss. He also said he hopes the county, city and railroad can find a way to add a fence along the railroad tracks in Hardin and other communities near the train routes.

“We live in an age where everybody wants to know everything,” Childers said. “But sometimes accidents happen, incidents happen and we have to respect people’s privacy.”

Harper’s parents said support from the Hardin community had been strong. In addition to the memorial near the tracks, an online fundraiser had generated more than $15,000 in donations to help with burial costs.

“Hardin has been very supportive. People have reached out. Family and friends have been able to check on us,” Daylea said.