13yo Peri Sagun lost her life after a brick pillar fell on a hammock she was on Saturday. Hear from her teacher at 6 pic.twitter.com/yJAWz5mPXL
— Kim St. Onge (@KStonge12) May 17, 2016
Peri Sagun’s name seemed to capture almost everything about her.
Peri means “fairy” in Turkish, and sure enough, the 13-year-old was as small as a pixie but with boundless energy, a brilliant mind and a bright smile. She bounced up and down when excited and loved family trips to Disney World.
Yet, the girl with the fairy tale name would not have the chance to live out her own dreams.
On Saturday, Sagun died in a “freak” hammock accident outside her family’s home in Des Moines.
Sagun and her 16-year-old sister, Eren, had strung a hammock between a tree and a five-foot-tall brick light post. Eren was sitting in the hammock sometime just before noon when Peri jumped in as well. The extra weight suddenly caused the light post to collapse, according to local television station KCCI, which cited a police report.
The bricks struck Peri in the head. Her sister ran into the house, yelling for their father, who tried to perform CPR on his daughter.
An ambulance rushed Peri to a hospital four miles away, but it was too late. She died at 12:52 p.m.
Although solid brick, the two-foot-wide square light post was only placed several inches in the ground and had no reinforcement, the Des Moines Register reported. A city official told the newspaper that there are no laws regulating decorative structures such as the light post, nor are permits required for their construction.
The bizarre accident has left the family reeling, according to one relative.
“This weekend one of heaven’s angels was taken from us way too soon, in a complete freak accident,” Stephanie McCabe wrote on Facebook. “Peri was the sweetest girl you would have ever met in your entire life. … My heart is broken.
“I remember us playing pool and pelting her with Nerf guns over Thanksgiving,” McCabe wrote under a photo of Peri, Eren and her at her wedding. “I can still see her smile, full of braces as her and her beautiful sister Eren led me down the aisle. There are no words I can say to my family to make them hurt any less, and this is something no mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandmother, cousin or anyone should have to endure and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.”
McCabe then posted a poem about wanting to visit a loved one in heaven.
“We are comforted knowing you aren’t in pain and never have to deal with the trials of life,” McCabe added. “There is nothing more I wish for than just one more night with you by our side.”
The deadly accident has also shocked Des Moines, particularly St. Augustin Catholic School, where Sagun was an honor student.
“The students were in shock really … and the faculty, too,” principal Nancy Dowdle told KCCI.
“There’s not one teacher I know who wouldn’t, if something happened to a child, wouldn’t just try to take their place because, you know, you’ve lived your life,” said Sagun’s teacher, Pat Hogan, fighting back tears.
Hogan said that she had known Sagun since she entered kindergarten at the school and that Peri was a model student.
“She was so rule-bound, I mean you just want a whole class like that that never turns sideways, and that’s how she was,” Hogan told KCCI, adding that Peri was a talented writer and avid tennis player.
“She was a child that no one ever said anything bad about or she never said anything mean to,” Hogan said. “She was just a very kind girl.”
Friends took to social media to express their sadness over Sagun’s sudden death.
“I can’t believe this happened,” one wrote. “Still in shock. Rest easy precious … Have fun playing tennis in heaven pretty girl.”
“I wish we had gone on our movie date last week,” another added. “I never imagined that when I surprised you this week in your room as you were changing into your onesie, that it would be the very last time I’d ever hug you again.”
— Vicky Flores (@vickkky04) May 15, 2016
Peri’s family has not yet commented publicly on her death. But an obituary describes the 13-year-old as a “radiant blessing.”
“She was the amazing and beautiful best friend and little sister to Eren and an amazing role model and big sister to [her little brother] Devin,” the obituary states. She loved tennis and volleyball, and was “excited about the summer workouts and improving her jump serve.”
The obituary says that she was named after the word for “fairy” in her father’s native language, and that the name suited her.
“Peri … was truly magical and exemplified the meaning of her name in many ways,” according to the obituary. “She was lighthearted, care free, and her glowing personality could light up a room. She dreamed about sunshine, college, and a career as an interior designer. She passionately enjoyed listening to music, especially One Direction, reading, art, nature, family reunions at Disney World, being on a beach or tubing behind a boat in Florida (the more bounce, the better!), experiencing the world, and she will forever and always be remembered laughing with her friends and family. Her bounce up-and-down joy when she was excited (without moving hardly a muscle!) is what will forever make us smile when we think of her, but her energy, smile, and caring for those close to her will be what is most remembered.”
Peri will be buried Friday at St. Augustin Catholic Church.
She will rest in the shadow of her school, where she was set to graduate from eighth grade on May 25.
The school plans to honor Peri at the ceremony and give her diploma to her family.