FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A Pee Dee family is grieving following the tragic death of a toddler in a church parking lot on Sunday.
According to the Florence County Coroner’s Office, 18-month-old Khloe Chandler was hit by a van in the parking lot of Mt. Moriah Christian Church, between Vox Highway and Highway 314, in Johnsonville. The incident happened Sunday at 12:50 p.m.
Khloe’s mother Cindy Garcia said she can still hardly believe what happened.
She said she was at work during the incident. Other family members had taken Khloe to church.
Family members said Garcia’s mother, Khloe’s grandmother, was the one who hit Khloe with the van. Khloe’s grandmother said she’s heartbroken, but she simply didn’t see Khloe.
Garcia said she rushed to the hospital after getting a phone call from her sister about what happened.
Garcia beat the ambulance the hospital. She watched as first responders took Khloe from the ambulance to the hospital on a stretcher.
“She kept trying to open her eyes," Garcia said. "Every time she opened her eyes, her eyes would go back in her head. And they pushed me out the room. They didn’t let me see my baby.”
Garcia said Khloe was born three months early and only weighed two pounds at birth. She said doctors told her she wouldn’t live long, but Khloe continued to defy the odds.
Garcia took many photos of Khloe since she never knew how long she’d be with her. She said Khloe had breathing issues since birth, and she even came home from the hospital after birth on oxygen.
“People asked me, ‘Why do you take so many pictures of her? Why are you always posting her?’ I had so many times where I thought I was going to lose my child that I just wanted to remember everything about her life,” Garcia said.
Garcia said she still hasn’t seen Khloe’s body. She died while in the hospital. The Florence County Coroner said Sunday her body would be taken to MUSC for an autopsy.