A State College area teenager has died following a horse riding accident on Thursday morning.
Ashley Stout, 13, was pronounced dead following the accident, which occurred at about 9:15 a.m. in Halfmoon Township. She was a rising eighth-grader at Park Forest Middle School.
"There is nothing more saddening than the death of a child," State College Area School District Superintendent Bob O'Donnell said in a statement. "Our entire community grieves for the Stout family and everyone who knew Ashley."
Stout was an accomplished young equestrian who trained at Standing Ovation Equestrian Center in Port Matilda and who had been competing since the age of 6. She had been selected to compete with the Junior/Young Rider Training Team later this month at the North American Youth Championships in Montana, according to a recent press release.
Her horse, Avant Garde, also died as a result of the accident, according to a Facebook post by Standing Ovation.
"She was an avid equestrian, and her mother wanted the community to know that she 'was doing what she loved and was so very brave,'" O'Donnell wrote in an email to district families on Thursday.
The middle school will have counselors available from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday for any student needing support. O'Donnell also shared an article with suggestions for parents and guardians in discussing the death with their children.
"Ashley was a wonderful and enthusiastic young lady, and we will greatly miss her," Principal Karen Wiser said.