Loved ones still recovering from teen's death

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Family and friends of a southwest Missouri teenager who was accidentally shot to death last year during a slumber party are remembering her with special T-shirts, gun safety efforts and strong religious faith.

Megan Reppond, 14, a freshman at Joplin High School, died last Dec. 27 in Neosho when a friend picked up a handgun and jokingly pointed it at her. The gun discharged, striking Megan in the head.

The homeowner had left the .38-caliber handgun in a room he did not expect the girls to enter. Authorities said he had received a new holster and was testing to see if the gun fit the holster. No charges were filed.

Samantha Mahurin, a Joplin junior, was standing next to Megan when the accident happened. She told The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/v9wIP8) that she developed high blood pressure and panic attacks but has survived with the love of friends, family and God.

She and other friends, including Micaela Tennis, a Joplin sophomore, decided holding a memorial service this year would be too emotional.

"We decided to make and wear purple T-shirts," Tennis said on Tuesday. "Megan's favorite color was purple. We thought it would be a good way for her friends to remember her."

The T-shirt has a picture of Megan on front and carries some of her favorite tweets, along with her favorite saying "I'm going to change the world someday with love."

It also includes Megan's birth date, Aug. 2, and what Tennis refers to as her "end date."

"It wasn't the end of me seeing her, it was the end of her great life. I don't like to say death date because I know she's still living — that's my faith-based answer. I know that I'm going to see her again someday," Tennis said.

The two girls took orders for 52 shirts. Among those wearing the shirts this week were Megan's mother and sister, Ginger Reppond and Holly Woodward, who wore them while they visited Megan's grave.

Mahurin said she believes the slogan that appears on the shirt came true in some ways.

"It might not be the whole world, but you could say she changed the lives she never knew," she said. "You know, their outlook on life, like some of Megan's friends aren't rude to others. It's changed them as a person. It's affected so many people in different ways."

Her death also prompted Ernest Friend, the pastor at Neosho Community Church, to hold a workshop on gun safety. Ginger Reppond said she knows her daughter's death prompted many parents to have discussions with their children.

On Tuesday, Ginger Reppond said she thought her daughter would appreciate the T-shirt effort.

"I think she would be thrilled to know she had impacted so many people," she said.

Reppond has kept a journal she intends to make into an e-book to help others, and created a Facebook page called Seven Angels for those who have lost children.

"My husband and I have started a lot of outreach," Reppond said. "Whatever time we would have spent with Megan we will spend serving. Believe me, when you decide that, your time will fill up."

Reppond also is anticipating the birth of her first grandchild in May, who will be given Megan's middle name.

"We're pinning a lot of hope on this little Gracie. Not as a replacement, but as a place to pour our love," Reppond said.

"It's like everything is playing out, and she's watching over everything. That gives me strength."


Information from: The Joplin Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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