Steven and Mary Beth Chapman’s 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue Chapman, died Wednesday evening after being struck by an SUV driven by her teenage brother in the driveway of the family’s Franklin, TN, home.
Laura McPherson, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said, “It appears to be a terrible accident,’’ as the teen did not see Maria, and no charges are expected.
John W. Styll, Gospel Music Assoc. president, said of Steven Curtis: “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 one, no matter what the circumstances, is heartbreaking beyond all comprehension. He talks about his kids all the time. That’s his life. His kids are more important to him than music, that’s for sure.”
In addition to winning five GRAMMYs and 54 Dove awards and selling more than 10 million albums throughout his career, Chapman earlier this year released a book about the blessings of fatherhood, Cinderella: The Love of Daddy and his Princess (Thomas Nelson). Plus, Steven and Mary Beth founded Shaohannah’s Hope after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. Maria is the youngest of their three adopted daughters.
“Steven and Mary Beth Chapman and their family have consistently modeled a very real and very strong faith in the Lord no matter what the circumstances,” LifeWay Christian Stores President Mark Scott told CBA Retailers+Resources. “In seeing them briefly after the accident, their loss of precious Maria is as painful to them as it would be for any family. However, their faith in the Lord remains strong. I was reminded once again of the glorious hope God gives believers in times like these.”
In memory of Maria, Jim Houser, Steven Curtis’ manager, set up a blog. Visitors can watch a video of her and Steven and send condolences to the family. Houser said, “Your prayers are needed for all in the Chapman family. This is a family who has so generously loved and given to so many. Just hours before, this close-knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter, Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out five candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago. And yet we trust in a God who was not surprised by this, and because of Jesus I am certain through faith in Him we will see Maria again.”