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Father of girl killed by his errant golf ball discusses tragedy

OREM, Utah — A 6-year-old Utah girl who was accidentally fatally struck by a golf ball hit by her father died in her dad’s arms, he said.

Kellen Hill recently returned to the course where an errant drive struck his daughter Aria in the back of the head as she sat in a nearby golf cart on July 15, the Deseret News reported.

“That was really, really hard. Just standing in the tee box and looking out and just kind of seeing everything,” he said.

Hill said he’s played golf since he was a child, and he’s never had a shot like that. His drive went almost straight left and the ball went through the back of the golf cart, passing two bags before it hit the child. The father-and-daughter golfing duo weren’t even supposed to be at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem that day; Hill had called two other courses, but both were full.

“How it happened, I cannot explain and I don’t understand. That is not a shot I hit, ever,” Hill said. “She was doing what she was supposed to be doing. She wasn’t running around … It was as if puzzle pieces fell into place. It was crazy.”

She died before an ambulance arrived.

The story received widespread attention, and the Hill family received condolences from as far away as Sweden, France and Australia. Now, they’re hoping an event in her memory will help them heal and change Sleepy Ridge into a happy place for the family, rather than a place where Aria lost her life.

A tree has been planted in the girl’s honor at the 16th tee, and course owner Golden Holt said he’s hoping to make the “Because of Aria” fundraiser held Friday into an annual event.

It makes sense for a girl who loved going golfing with her dad.

“Aria loved to come golfing and I took her whenever I played,” Hill said. “This is a chance to do something positive and fill the memory with something other than a loss of life.”

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