On July 11, 14-year-old Bailey Stout died in a jet ski accident on Boone Lake.
A Friday afternoon on the lake started like any other getaway weekend for the Stout family, filled with the promise of fun and laughter. It ended with pain and anguish when the jet ski Bailey rode with her mom, Nikki Hulse, was hit from behind by another jet ski driven by her dad, Steven "Pig" Stout.
We talked to her parents this weekend as they celebrated Bailey's life at her favorite hangout, Bristol, Tennessee's Skate Inn. They said Bailey's strong spirit lives on and will keep touching others.
Nikki's arm is still bruised from wrist to shoulder, a visible reminder of the pain she carries in her heart. It came from the scrape from her daughter's fingernails when they were thrown from their craft. "It was just a tragic accident," she said. "It just happened as quick as the blink of an eye."
"It'll be a day in my life never, ever, ever, ever forgotten, until I'm up there with my daughter," Steven told us.
Before the accident, Nikki slowed the jet ski while Bailey looked to shore to find a house that belonged to a family friend. "She let off the throttle, looked at me and grinned. Then [Steven] didn't see us, and he hit us," Nikki said.
People on the lake ran to help. One man swam from shore, and others in a pontoon boat helped get Bailey out of the water. Her dad performed CPR on the deck of the boat. "I did everything God wanted me to do to keep her with me, but he wanted her, so that's why she's up there in Heaven," he said.
The last 10 days have been a blur for Bailey Stout's parents. "If it wasn't for support, I wouldn't be standing on my legs. It's just so tremendous. You've got billions of good hearts out here in the Tri-Cities, trust me," Nikki told us.
The empathy of coworkers and community have helped the family cope. "She touched more lives than I would ever, ever, ever had dreamt," Nikki said.
Bailey Stout would have been a freshman at Virginia High School this fall. There will be a tree planted there in her memory.