FedEx driver told investigators 7-year-old girl was still alive after he hit her with van, documents say




  • In US
  • 2022-12-09 05:25:43Z
  • By TODAY

The FedEx driver accused of killing a 7-year-old girl in Texas allegedly told investigators that she had been fine after he hit her with his truck, but panicked and killed her inside the vehicle.

According to an arrest warrant released on Dec. 8, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, told investigators he had backed into Athena Strand in his work van and that she appeared to be uninjured following the incident.

The affidavit said he told police that he then placed the girl in the back of the van and killed her.

Horner, who was arrested on Dec. 2, told investigators he'd "panicked" and feared that "she was going to tell her father about being hit by the FedEx truck the Defendant was operating," according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said that when Athena was put in the van she was speaking and told Horner her name before her death. Athena disappeared from her home in Paradise, Texas on Nov. 30. Her body was found two days later, officials said, southeast of the city of Boyd, a city about 11 miles away.

The affidavit notes that Horner led investigators to the location of the girl's body.

In a press conference covered by NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth on Dec. 8, Athena's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said Horner had been delivering the young girl's Christmas present - "You Can Be Anything" Barbie dolls - when she was killed.

"Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be," Gandy said through tears. "And this present, ordered out of innocence and love, is one she will never receive."

Athena Strand.
Athena Strand.  

At the press conference, Gandy said she wanted "everyone to know Athena."

"She was an amazing little girl who loved dancing, singing and all animals - dogs, cats, horses, lizards, chinchillas," she said. "She also loved school and all her friends in the first grade, who are now also struggling with her senseless murder."

Gandy added that she hopes the 7-year-old's death "will not be in vain."

"I will spend the rest of my life fighting for her so that no other family will endure such unbearable pain and grief. A monster attempted to take Athena's voice, but we are her voice."

Gandy noted that the girl's funeral on Friday, Dec. 9, will be "the last time I will see my baby."

"After tomorrow, when the silence sets in, Athena's family, including her three young sisters, will start the journey of all the 'firsts' without her."

In a statement, FedEx said in a statement that its thoughts are with the family, and the company is cooperating fully with law enforcement.

"Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event," FedEx said.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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