Brad Knighton and his family are mourning the death of their 11-year-old daughter, Olivia Knighton – who died on Wednesday (July 19) in a boating accident in Horry County. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources confirmed the manner of her death in a brief statement on Twitter on July 20.
“Initial information indicates that a 23-foot boat carrying 12 people was traveling on the Intracoastal Waterway in Little River,” the Department of Natural Resources wrote on Twitter – adding that the boat was ‘rocked by a large wake caused by another boat, resulting in 9 of the 12 occupants going overboard.”
Olivia was one of those who went overboard and, while none of the eight others were injured, she was reportedly ‘struck by a propeller’ and later died of her injuries. The Department was still in the process of collecting witness statements, examining the boat, and attempting to piece together what happened.
At that same time, Brad Knighton shared a touching statement from him and his family regarding Olivia’s tragic death one day prior. The letter was signed by Brad, his wife (Britney Knighton), and their two sons (Owen Knighton and Brooks Knighton). The family was still trying to process their unfortunate loss.
“There are no words to express the depth of our profound grief and sorrow in this moment. Our family is still in shock at the sudden and tragic loss of our beautiful and brilliant daughter,” the family wrote in the statement. “We are still in disbelief that her bright and pure light was taken away from us so suddenly.”
The news comes just seven months after Brad Knighton announced his retirement from professional soccer, bringing an end to a 16-year playing career. He spent 12 seasons with the New England Revolution and recently began a career in coaching as the U-17 Head Coach at Revolution Academy.
“Olivia loved soccer and the Revolution with all of her heart. 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,” the family continued in their statement – adding they’ll ‘somehow’ find a way to get through this together.
Brad Knighton Has the Support of His Former Team
Brad Knighton has spent the majority of his career with the New England Revolution and will continue to be a part of their future as he begins his coaching career. On July 22, the team took to their Instagram to share a photo of the players grouped together as they hold a jersey with Olivia’s name on the back.
“You’re with us always, Olivia,” the caption read. The team also displayed a photo of Olivia Knighton on the jumbotron during their match to honor her life, which was taken too soon. Brad Knighton commented on the post with several emojis – including a Latin cross, a couple of heart emojis, and a prayer emoji.
According to the Revolution, Knighton retired as the club’s all-time leader in games played in net, games started in net, minutes played in net in the U.S. Open Cup competition. He also ranks high on the club’s all-time leaderboard for goals against average, save percentage, and winning percentage in 52 matches.
“To my children Olivia, Owen, and Brooks, I’m so glad you have been able to be a part of this journey. Knowing you were standing there and cheering me on every day gave me the strength and belief to reach a potential I never knew was there,” Brad Knighton wrote in a statement when he retired from the MLS.
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