Three-year-old girl dies in drowning accident

Payten Bennett

Payten Bennett

TONASKET – A grieving Tonasket family is finding comfort in a gift of life given in the wake of the accidental drowning of their three-year-old daughter.

The parents of Payten Bennett – Ashley Fox and Jared Bennett – donated their daughter’s organs to other children in need of transplants after she passed away on Saturday, Dec. 3.

“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Fox said. “Payten was such a caring, loving little girl. Anytime someone was hurt or crying, she was always concerned. She just didn’t want them to hurt any more.

“There were lots of boys and girls with needs. I wanted those kids to have a chance at life, and I know that my daughter is living on through them.”

The call about the accident came in to 911 dispatch at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. According to Sheriff Frank Rogers, Joseph W. Fry, 31, Tonasket, told investigators he was watching the baby when he went out for a cigarette.

“He said Everything got quiet and he went in to find the child floating in the tub. She was taken to North Valley Hospital and airlifted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, where she died on Saturday,” Roger said, adding that in these cases an autopsy is ordered automatically.

“There is an autopsy being performed, but we probably won’t have the results for at least a month. The investigation is just to determine what happened,” Rogers said.

The sheriff said deputies went to Spokane to do interviews with the parties involved.

“To me, for a family this would be just devastating,” Rogers said. “One of my grandchildren is three-years-old. I don’t know how I’d deal with it.”

Fox said knowing other children have a chance to live because of Payten has been a help to her. A four-year-old boy in Utah received her heart, a one-year-old in Seattle received her liver and her kidneys also have been matched to a recipient.

“It does help,” she said. “I know a part of my daughter is still out there, and the families were so grateful for the gift she gave.”