Park City community rallies to support family of slain 7-year-old Heber girl
Funeral expenses, flights home, logistical support offered
After a 7-year-old Heber girl was fatally shot earlier this month, Wasatch Back community members came together to support her family and allow them the opportunity to lay her to rest in her native Puerto Rico.
As of Thursday, the victim’s family was set to accompany the child’s body to Puerto Rico, with flights and funeral expenses both in Utah and Puerto Rico covered by local philanthropy.
An online fundraiser had collected more than $56,000 as of Friday afternoon.
Zaydanielys Rodriguez, known as Zai, died on July 9 after being struck by a stray bullet at the Wasatch Commons Apartments in Heber where she lived.
Zai was magnetic, with a large personality that drew others to her, said Parkite Angela Moschetta, who knew Zai and whose boyfriend coached the girl’s brother in baseball. Zai’s younger brother Dilan was her constant shadow, Moschetta said, and community members have worked to secure grief counseling for the family.
The Heber Valley Hospital paid for funeral costs at a local funeral home, Moschetta said.
It was the father’s wish to transport his daughter’s body to Puerto Rico, and Moschetta said that several community members worked to secure flight arrangements.
One Delta pilot who lives in Heber and whose daughter played softball with Zai sent an email to the company’s CEO, Moschetta said, despite having no previous relationship with him.
The CEO replied early one morning and said Delta would take care of the transportation logistics to bring the family home, Moschetta said.
They were set to fly Thursday night.
Community members confirmed with the father which funeral home he would like to use in Puerto Rico and made arrangements to transport Zai’s body there.
The Rotary Club of Park City worked to secure funds to pay for expenses, including the funeral, once the family arrived in Puerto Rico.
The club’s treasurer, Corrie Forsling, said a longtime Rotarian organized the fundraising effort.
The support is aimed at allowing the family time and space to grieve, Moschetta indicated.
The girl’s shooting death shocked many in the Park City area. Shootings are rare in the Wasatch Back, especially incidents involving a victim so young.
The alleged shooter has been charged with first-degree murder and is in the Wasatch County Jail, court documents indicate.
According to court documents, he and two others were drinking heavily at the apartment complex. He and another person had also ingested prescription benzodiazepine medication.
The men were “incredibly intoxicated,” according to witness accounts in the probable cause statement. The alleged shooter had pulled a gun out earlier in the night and “wave(d) it around,” according to the witnesses.
Detectives found a hole from a bullet that went through the wall where the men were drinking, continued north through the residence and into the next apartment, where Zai and her family lived.
The online fundraiser can be found here: gofundme.com/f/zaydanielys-actos-funebres-y-transporte-a-p-r.
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