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What happened to Olivia Knighton? Former MLS goalkeeper Brad Knighton's daughter, 11, tragically dies in boating accident

2023-07-23 15:58
Brad Knighton's daughter, Olivia, tragically lost her life in a South Carolina boating accident on July 19 due to a large wake caused by another boat
What happened to Olivia Knighton? Former MLS goalkeeper Brad Knighton's daughter, 11, tragically dies in boating accident

MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: In a heart-wrenching accident that has sent shockwaves through the soccer community, the 11-year-old daughter of retired MLS player Brad Knighton, Olivia Knighton, tragically lost her life in a boating accident near Little River, South Carolina. The incident occurred on the Intracoastal Waterway on Wednesday, July 19, when a 23-foot boat carrying a dozen people was rocked by a "large wake caused by another boat," according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

What happened to Olivia Knighton?

Olivia was among nine individuals who fell off the boat during the turbulent event, and tragically, she was struck by a propeller. Despite the best efforts of those present, Olivia succumbed to her injuries at McLeod Seacoast Hospital. The circumstances of the accident remain unclear, and authorities are conducting a thorough investigation to understand what led to this heartbreaking incident, WDPE reported.

Following the devastating news, Brad Knighton took to Instagram to express his family's profound grief and sorrow. He described Olivia as a beautiful and brilliant daughter who had an unwavering love for soccer and the New England Revolution, a team he played for during his illustrious 16-year career in the MLS before retiring in January of the previous year. "There are no words to express the depth of our profound grief and sorrow in this moment," read a post on Brad's Instagram. "Our family is still in shock at the sudden and tragic loss of our beautiful and brilliant daughter, Olivia, to an unfortunate boating accident yesterday. We are still in disbelief that her bright and pure light was taken from us so suddenly. Somehow we will get through this together as a family."

In addition to her father, Olivia is survived by her mother, Britney Knighton, and her younger brothers, Owen Knighton (9) and Brooks Knighton (5). "Olivia loved soccer and the Revolution with all of her heart," the message continued. "Our family always felt your support behind us during my career. We will need you and your prayers with us now more than ever. We love you, Olivia. Brad, Britney, Owen, and Brooks Knighton."

The accident is under investigation, per the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "Initial information indicates that a 23-foot boat carrying 12 people was traveling on the Intracoastal Waterway in Little River," the agency tweeted on July 20. "The boat was rocked by a large wake caused by another boat, resulting in nine of the 12 occupants going overboard," adding, "An 11-year-old girl was struck by a propeller and later died of her injuries. Nobody else was injured in the incident."

New England Revolution pays tribute

The New England Revolution community, where Brad Knighton currently serves as a youth academy manager, also mourns the loss of Olivia. The team released a statement on their Instagram page, honoring her as a beloved presence who always brought warmth and joy whenever she visited Gillette Stadium and the training facility. "The entire New England Revolution community is devastated to learn of the Knighton family's tragic loss," the team posted on Instagram. "Olivia was a bright and shining light who was a beloved presence around the Revolution throughout her entire life, always bringing a warm smile and laugh to Gillette Stadium and our training facility when she would visit. Her sudden loss leaves a profound hole in our hearts." The message added, "The club sends its deepest condolences to Britney, Brad, Owen, and Brooks, and we will be there to support the Knighton family in every way possible."

Meanwhile, the Coelho Middle School community in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where Olivia was a fifth-grade student, is also in mourning. School officials remember Olivia as a wonderful student who actively participated in various after-school activities, leaving a lasting impact on everyone she encountered. In response to this tragic event, grief counseling services will be made available at the school on Monday to support students, teachers, and staff during this difficult time.

GoFundMe campaign

The devastating loss of Olivia has prompted an outpouring of support from friends, family, and the wider soccer community. A GoFundMe campaign was initiated to assist the Knighton family with funeral expenses and the transportation of Olivia's remains home. Within a short time, the campaign surpassed its initial $15,000 goal and has already raised more than $32,000. The overwhelming support and love from well-wishers and donors have provided some comfort during this dark time for the family. "Our friend Brad and his Wife Brit are having to do any parents [sic] worse nightmare. They are having to lay their precious 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, to rest," the organizer wrote, adding, "Continue to keep their family and friends lifted up in your thoughts and prayers."

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