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Golf ball hit by father strikes, kills 6-year-old daughter

OREM, Utah — Relatives of a 6-year-old Utah girl who died after her father accidentally struck her with a golf ball are remembering her as a loving, playful child.

Aria Hill’s uncle David Smith described her as a happy child who greeted strangers and enjoyed spending time with her parents. Smith said she went golfing often with her father and that it was one of their favorite activities to do together.

Police say the ball struck Hill in the back of the head on Monday morning, while the father and daughter were out golfing with Hill’s uncle, Brayden Hill, at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.

“A complete, fluke accident — you couldn’t repeat it if you tried,” Smith told KUTV in Salt Lake City. “She just happened to be in the exact wrong place, just directly across from him, when it happened.”

The ball hit the base of her neck. Lt. Trent Colledge of the Orem Police Department says she was flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City in critical condition and later died from her injuries.

Smith said Hill loved to do what the family called “big girl things” with her mother Talysa like dressing up, experimenting with makeup, and helping take care of her two younger brothers.

“She loved everyone so freely and effortlessly, the best way she knew how,” he added.

Steven Marett, the head golf professional at the course, told the Deseret News that he has seen people occasionally get hit by balls but he had never heard of guests getting seriously injured or killed.

“This is absolutely unimaginable, and it’s been devastating,” Marett said.

Colledge said police are not planning to pursue charges because it appears to have been a tragic accident.

Hill’s family has planned her funeral services for July 20 at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse near Eagle Mountain in northern Utah.

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