Father of Texas girl allegedly killed by FedEx driver files lawsuit

The father of 7-year-old Athena Strand, the little girl allegedly killed by a Texas FedEx delivery driver, filed a lawsuit for negligence.

The suit was filed by Jacob Strand in a Wise County court weeks after Strand was found dead in a body of water in the city of Boyd, about 10 miles from her home in Paradise.

The driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was arrested earlier 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. 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 in the suit.

The lawsuit says that 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.

Athena Strand
Athena Strand.Texas Dept. of Public Safety

After hitting her with the van, Horner allegedly “either took Athena into the van or enticed her to enter the van,” the suit says. Despite the child not being seriously hurt, Horner allegedly killed her.

The suit accuses FedEx and Big Topspin of negligence. The family is seeking more than one million dollars.

A spokesperson for FedEx said they are 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 on Thursday and it’s not clear if Horner has obtained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

The girl was reported missing on Nov. 30 at about 6:41 p.m. 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 a $1.5 million bond.

Colin Sheeley contributed.

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