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Pa. girl injured in pool accident last year dies

December 13, 2006|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Prayer Wenger, the Quincy Township girl who nearly lost her life in a swimming pool accident last year, died Tuesday afternoon at Chambersburg Hospital.

"I don't have a lot of details," said Buck Besecker, pastor of the Five Forks Brethren In Christ Church. The family had taken Prayer to the hospital after she developed a heart problem, he said.

"They were going to fly her out to Philadelphia Children's Hospital," but she died before that could happen, Besecker said.

Prayer was 17 months old on July 18, 2005, when the accident occurred. Her mother, Lisa Wenger, was hanging laundry outside while her children were watching television inside their Anthony Highway home.

When Lisa Wenger finished, she went back inside, but Prayer was missing. She found her daughter in an inflatable pool in the yard, not breathing.

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Prayer was airlifted to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, but had sustained severe brain damage. In the months since the near-drowning, Prayer had undergone extensive medical treatments and battled pneumonia and other complications from her condition, according to past interviews with the family.

Besecker said he spoke by telephone Tuesday with Michael and Lisa Wenger. The mother told him that she would grieve for Prayer, but also celebrate her "daughter's entry into heaven," he said.

Members of the Wenger family attend both Five Forks and St. Andrew Catholic Church in Waynesboro, Besecker said. No date had been set for services, but he said they would be held at St. Andrew.

Besecker said the Five Forks and St. Andrew congregations and other volunteers have pitched in to help the family deal with mounting medical bills and other needs. Tuesday, he informed them of her death through the church's Web site.

"There's so many people that have been involved in this little girl's life," he said.

Elizabeth Jobes of Fayetteville, Pa., said she became involved shortly after the accident, when the Rev. Dave Keller held a special Mass for Prayer at St. Andrew.

"I'm just devastated because at noon today I took over all kinds of food so they could have a good start in their new home," Jobes said Tuesday.

Prayer's death comes just days before the Wenger family, including other children in the family, Loren, Madison and Faith, were to move into a home they recently purchased in Mont Alto, Pa.

"We were scheduled to move them there Saturday," Besecker said.

"There were probably 25 people involved in it altogether," said state Representative-elect Todd Rock, who was among those who helped remodel the house.

A number of volunteers were from Helping Hands with Hearts, a group of retirees from the Penn National development, said Jobes. Her husband, John, helped put in new electrical fixtures, she said.

Within the past 10 days, the house was painted and carpeted, new electrical fixtures were installed, and furniture was purchased, including a new kitchen set and a dresser for Prayer, Jobes said.

Christmas gifts also were bought for Prayer, she said.

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