12-year-old horse enthusiast killed on family trip to South Carolina

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com

A 12-year-old Amherst girl was killed Thursday while on a family trip to South Carolina.

Kimberly Roach died of a kick to the head by a horse, according to Lellie Ward, owner of Paradise Farm just outside Aiken, a town of about 30,000 close to Augusta in the western part of the state.

“It was a terrible accident,” she told the News-Times. “The coroner’s report will show it was blunt force trauma.”

Roach was traveling to the farm for the first time with a coach from Ohio, Ward said: “We’re just trying to be as sensitive right now as possible to the family.”

The tragedy happened around 1:40 p.m. at the farm, a 100-acre training facility established in 1997 by Ward, an accomplished competitive rider and United States Eventing Association instructor.

Coroner Tim Carlton could not confirm the cause of death.

He said the pasture in which Roach was found is where her horse was located. She had just received the horse in the past two weeks.

There were no eyewitnesses to the incident. Carlton said her injuries indicate that she was most likely not riding at the time.

Roach was transported to Aiken Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

“This is just a tragic accident and our (the Aiken Community) hearts go out to the Roach family,” Carlton said via email.

An autopsy was scheduled for Friday but its findings have not been released.

Aiken County sheriff’s Capt. Eric Abdullah said deputies responded to Paradise Farm but immediately turned over the investigation to the coroner’s office.

In South Carolina, state law requires a full investigation into any death involving a child.

Ahdullah said he could not comment on the nature of the child’s injuries, what deputies saw at the farm, or whether any suspicious factors could have contributed to Roach’s death.

We also reached out to the nearby Aiken Horse Show, a 100-year-old equestrian event. Organizers there said to their knowledge Roach was not an exhibitor.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk