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Maria Sue Chapman, Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter, died Wednesday evening from injuries sustained when a sports utility vehicle hit her in the driveway of the family's home near Franklin, Tennessee. She was 5.

The girl was struck by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by one of her teenage brothers around 5:30 p.m., authorities said. The teen's identity was not released.

Laura McPherson, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, told The Tennessean that the girl was airlifted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, where she was pronounced dead.

"It appears to be a terrible accident," McPherson said, adding that no charges are expected.

According to the Associated Press, several family members witnessed the accident, but the Tennessean report said only two children saw what happened. McPherson said the entire family was home at the time.

"I'm confident I can speak for everyone in the community to say we will do everything we can to support this family, as we would do at any time, but especially at a time like this," Gospel Music Association President John W. Styll told The Tennessean.

Maria was Steven and wife Mary Beth Chapman's third adopted daughter and sixth child overall, behind siblings Will Franklin, Caleb, Emily, Shaohannah, and Stevey Joy.

Their belief in adoption led the couple to found Shaohannah's Hope in 2000, an organization aimed at helping families facing the financial burden of adopting a child. So far, the charity has assisted thousands of families with grants, according to the nonprofit's Web site.

"My heart is just aching for them," said Velvet Kelm, Chapman's publicist.

"I don't know of anybody who loves his children more than he does and is so committed to the adoption concept, and to lose ...

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May 2008

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