Ballinger Teen Dies Following Horse Riding Accident

A Ballinger High School Senior, Ashley Virden, has been taken off life support, Thursday, following a horseback riding accident on Tuesday.

This comes just weeks after the close-knit town had lost another young life. We talked with some of their high school friends.

A deep passion for horses, Ashley Virden, has been actively involved in barrel racing for several years. Ballinger High School graduate, Austin Sauceda, says Virden embraced each moment in her life.

"What she wanted she believed, and she went for it whether she succeeded or not she still did what she wanted. When she fell she got back up, she kept going and pushed forward," Sauceda said.

Tuesday afternoon, Virden was riding with her Father on family property where she was bucked off and stepped on by the horse. The 17-year-old senior in high school died Thursday.
Virden's best friend, Hadley Hatler, says despite the tragic incident, Virden was doing what she loved in those final moments.

"I was there at the hospital with her family the whole time and while I didn't really know how to take it yet, I just kept thinking about her the whole time and her dad was there and was very strong and he told me that just to remember that she loved us all and to stay strong for her," Hatler said.

And the close-knit community is doing just that, staying strong...together.

In just a few months, the intimate community of Ballinger are leaning on one another once again grieving the loss of a Bearcat.

July 16th, another young life, 16-year-old Taylor Bowman, died in a car accident. Friend, Mackenzie Watkins, says during the Georgia National Finals Virden dedicated the ride to Bowman. Virden set a record time in barrel racing.
"I think that's what she really wanted to accomplish, and I'm glad she got to accomplish it," Watkins said.

Two young lives have left an everlasting mark. Hatler says it was a privilege to know them.

"Just looking at both of their lives and what they did for our community, they were the heart of our community," Hatler said.

Friends, and the community of Ballinger have been grieving together at the Community Center with the help from pastors and counselors.

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