New playground honors 6-year-old who died in freak accident - - Columbia, South Carolina |

New playground honors 6-year-old who died in freak accident

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Children in a Lexington County community will soon have a safe place to play thanks to a group of volunteers.

Britt Holstein and several volunteers have never raised a playground, but some have raised kids and that's why they're figuring this out.

The playground is being built in part to honor 6-year-old Omara Aiken who died in a freak accident in 2010. 

"Omara was in my son's kindergarten class and we heard about it within a day or so," said Holstein. "Yeah, it was devastating. We're here because those things resonate with you and we want to do something so it doesn't happen again."

Omara was in her element in the outdoors. So it was no surprise that on a cold November day three years ago, Omara was jumping rope on the front porch of her Little Mountain Home.

"Omara was, I called her my mini me," said Omara's mom, Thenell Miller. "She was a very, very vibrant young lady."

Miller was just inside the door folding laundry, when things got quiet.

Omara had jumped off the porch, it didn't have a railing back then and the jump rope got caught on an exposed nail and wrapped around her neck.

Miller found Omara minutes later.

"To see her there like that, that's just a day I'll never forget," Miller said.  "Just an awful day.  When you can't feel that child, you can't caress her hair while she's sleeping or look at her little face when she's sleeping, it's tough."

Tough for a tight-knit community, too, that three years later, a playground is being built near her home in her name.

"I think the best way to honor her is with life, and dedicating this place to her... she died trying to play," said Dr. Akil Ross.  

With the help of experts, the volunteers should be done in time for a dedication Sunday afternoon.

Omara's classmates will be the first to try it out.

"I just count it as a big blessing... it's awesome," Miller said. "I know Omara will be right there with them playing, ya know? It's gonna be wonderful."

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