13-year-old Ellie Kelly, of Harlem, Georgia was at a friend's house getting ready for a school dance. 14-year-old Zach Provance, who lived at the house, started showing off a .38-caliber handgun. Zach unintentionally discharged the gun and the bullet hit Ellie in the head, lodging in her brain.
According to the sheriff, Zach admitted that he shot the gun. "He was messing around with the gun. He thought it was cool; showing it off. It accidentally discharged. He explained that he was trying to release the hammer with his finger in front of it so he could ease it back down when it slipped off his finger and discharged."
Ellie was airlifted to Medical College of Georgia Hospital for treatment.
Zach was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. The police also found marijuana, two other handguns and a rifle inside the home. Zach's father, 54-year-old Richard Provance, was charged with manufacture and possession of drugs and possession of a gun during commission of a crime (drugs). Georgia does not have any Child Access Protection laws so Provance was not charged with leaving a loaded handgun where a minor could get hold of it nor was he charged in association with Ellie's shooting.
Doctors at Medical College told Ellie's mother, Cynthia Lowe, her daughter was alive, but her brain damage was extensive. "There was no surgery they could do to help her because her brain was swelling so fast," Lowe said.
Ellie had talked with her mother a year ago about organ donation. After hearing the story of an organ donation from a 14-year-old girl who had been shot, Ellie told her mother "if anything ever happened she would want someone else to live on, because there would be no reason burying something that another child could use," said her mother.
Ellie's lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys and heart went to six different children. Lowe is comforted knowing the organs saved other children's lives. "I'm hoping and praying it does," she said. "Them being children, they still have a whole life ahead of therm. And I feel like part of Ellie is going to continue to live."