The father of 7-year-old Athena Strand, the little girl alleged to have been killed by a Texas FedEx delivery driver, has sued for negligence.
Jacob Strand filed the suit in a Wise County court weeks after Athena was found dead in a body of water in Boyd, about 10 miles from her home in Paradise.
The driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was arrested this month on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. He told authorities that he put the girl in his van after he struck her with the vehicle, authorities alleged. According to an affidavit, he said he killed her because he "panicked" and feared "she was going to tell her father about being hit by the FedEx truck."
At the time, Horner worked for Big Topspin, a subcontractor for FedEx. Both companies and Horner are named as defendants.
The lawsuit says Athena was playing in the front yard of her home when Horner delivered Christmas presents. Multiple media outlets reported that her mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said he was dropping off the "You Can Be Anything" Barbie dolls.
The suit alleges that after he hit her with the van, Horner "either took Athena into the van or enticed her to enter the van." Even though the child was not seriously hurt, Horner is alleged to have killed her.
The suit accuses FedEx and Big Topspin of negligence. The family is seeking more than $1 million.
A spokesperson said FedEx is aware of the complaint.
"Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand in the wake of this tragedy," the company said.
Big Topspin could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday, and it is not clear whether Horner has obtained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
The girl was reported missing at about 6:41 p.m. Nov. 30 after she disappeared from her home. Investigators learned that a FedEx driver had delivered packages to the home around the same time and worked with the contracting company to determine which driver was on that route, according to the affidavit.
Investigators also learned that the van was equipped with cameras that captured Horner taking a "young girl who was visibly similar to Athena in his van. The driver was seen on video talking to her in the van," the affidavit said.
Horner is being held on $1.5 million bond.