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'She was so kind, so gentle': Community mourns loss of 11-year-old girl killed in El Mirage crash

A 28-year-old El Mirage man has been accused of causing the fatal crash.

EL MIRAGE, Ariz. — An 11-year-old girl has died and three others are in stable condition following a two-vehicle crash Wednesday evening in El Mirage.

Police say the fatal crash was caused by a fight between a couple in a pickup truck that struck the victim's vehicle. 

Adrian Ballesteros, 28, of El Mirage was a passenger in the truck and allegedly pulled on the steering wheel during an argument with his girlfriend, causing her to lose control of the truck.

El Mirage police and fire responded to a scene at approximately 6:35 p.m. for a report of a serious accident near El Mirage Road and West Joe Ramirez Road.

A four-door car was traveling north on El Mirage Road when it was struck by the pickup truck traveling south on El Mirage Road. The truck veered left across the raised median and collided head-on with the passenger car.

The 11-year-old girl, identified as Arianna Gannon, was riding in the four-door vehicle and was ejected from the car, police said. Two other juveniles, ages 14 and 16, were also in the car and were transported to a local hospital. 

The car's 53-year-old driver was also taken to the hospital. All three of them appear to be in stable condition, police say.

“Absolutely devastating,” Pastor Barry Sappington with Life Spring Church said. “When we got the news I just couldn’t quite even grasp the tragedy of this. We still can’t wrap our brains around it. It’s heavy for everyone involved.”  

12 News is told Maria “Maggie” Suggs and three former pastor’s daughters were helping the church get ready for vacation bible school that starts on Sunday when they went out to a restaurant, and as they were leaving, their car was hit.

“Arianna was one of the sweetest young girls 11-year-old girls you’d ever meet She was so kind, so gentle,” Sappington said.

The community and the Gannon family are now left without her.

“To have them have to walk this out it’s just so overwhelming,” Sappington said.

Suggs’ family tells 12 News Maggie is still in the hospital and will likely need surgery.

El Mirage police’s latest update shows the two other teen sisters are stable.

Sappington believes it’ll be faith the Gannon family will need to lean into now.

“They are all going to carry this knowing that God is the one that will get them through,” Sappington said.

Life Spring Church is planning to hold a prayer vigil at the church at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night. 

Sappington said they’ll be gathering to pray for the families, peace and strength.

“I must admit, we’re probably praying for the one that hit them in the accident, that was the cause,” Sappington said.

“I don’t know them but I just know they’re going to go through something as well.”

The two occupants in the pickup both received minor injuries, police said.

Police say Ballesteros is facing charges of manslaughter and endangerment. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.

The victim's family is raising donations for funeral costs here. 

Donations for the injured driver are being collected here.  

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: Una niña de 11 años murió y otras tres personas se encuentran en condición estable tras accidente en El Mirage


Driving Safety Tips: 

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) offers driving tips to help keep people safe on the road. 

"There’s always room for improvement when it comes to road safety," the department said on its website. 

ADOT's suggestions include: 

  • Don’t speed or drive aggressively 

  • Never drive while under the influence of substances 

  • Avoid distractions while driving 

  • Wear your seatbelt and make sure all passengers are doing the same 

  • When an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, move over 

  • Stay extra aware in work zones 

  • Be prepared for weather conditions that make driving dangerous 

Find more tips on the department's Driving Safety Homepage on ADOT's website here. 

"Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Arizona Traveler Information site at az511.gov, by calling 511, downloading the AZ 511 app and through ADOT’s Twitter feed, @ArizonaDOT," the department said. 

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