Ashley Folse was inside her Pennsylvania home preparing dinner for her children when she heard the screams.
It’s a sound she said she will never forget, just as her husband, Shannon, will never be able to erase the sight that led to his blood-curdling shrieks at about 5:30 p.m. October 15.
“I ran outside to find my husband holding our daughter,” Folse told InsideEdition.com.
Their little girl, 2-year-old Shelbie, had been fatally struck by a vehicle.
“It was an accident,” she said. “Her uncle... was about to go home. My husband watched him turn Shelbie around towards the slab of concrete. He got in his truck and started to leave. He heard something hit his undercarriage and stopped immediately, but it was too late.”
Shelbie was riding her four-wheeler when the toy got caught in the pickup trucks’ axle and tipped over, she said.
“[Shelbie’s father saw] it happen, but couldn't scream fast enough and he pulled her out from under the truck,” Folse said. “The tire caught just her [skull]. She was already gone."
Emergency responders arrived at the horrific scene, but it was too late.
“We put her in the ambulance and I sat there with her until the coroner arrived. I revisit what happened that day every day since it happened,” her mother said.
What followed, Folse said, was an onslaught of criticism lobbed at Shelbie’s grieving parents and 21-year-old uncle, or “Parrain” —Cajun for “godfather” — who was not charged in connection to the devastating incident.
“R.I.P. the darling child couldn’t grow because of ignorance, once again! If your[sic] going to spread your legs and make an innocent child it’s time to be a responsible adult,” one person commented on InsideEdition.com’s October coverage of Shelbie’s death.
“Where was everyone that should have been watching this baby??? Makes me sick no one cares. I for one never take my eyes off my kiddos when someone is in my driveway. R.I.P Lil angel. Somebody should have been watching you,” another person wrote.
“Anyone who knows us knows we watch our children like hawks; they are never alone,” Folse said, noting that there were two other adults outside with her husband and brother-in-law and no one was able to prevent Shelbie’s death.
“Shannon said he looked over for [one] second and she was gone,” Folse said. “It happened in the blink of an eye.”
After nearly a month of silence following her daughter’s death, Folse said she decided to speak out because the judgment has not only affected her family, but has also sullied the memory of her daughter’s short but sweet life.
“She loved her Parrain with all her heart and he’s hurting so bad over it already and that negativity on the situation only makes it worse,” Folse said. “My baby has never been neglected.”
The Folses moved from Houma, Louisiana, to the Harvest Moon Trailer Court in Woodward Township for Shannon Folse’s job in the natural gas field.
The pair had two children, Sheldon and Shelbie, who came into the world as she left it — small but mighty and as tough as she was loving, Folse said.
“Shelbie was beautiful from the moment she was born,” she continued. “Every day was a blessing with my princess.”
Like most people, the little girl was a complicated person with her own thoughts and opinions and quirks.
She was quiet by nature but didn’t hesitate to let someone know when she was unhappy. She had a silly side and could be sneaky when she wanted to be, especially when it came to her favorite snacks. She loved Minnie Mouse, dressing up and time spent in the bath, but she never met a mud puddle she didn’t like, her mother said.
“And she loved picking her Mimi’s flowers; she would bring them to us if she didn’t try to eat them first,” Folse continued. “She was always trying to eat something she wasn't supposed to. One time she tried to eat a wasp. It stung her before I got to her and I scared her pretty bad when I snatched her up.
“She took it like a champ though. After she got done being scared there were no tears over the pain. Just like her stitches. She had to have three because she scraped her head on a broken PlayStation 3 her brother took off the counter. She was more mad that we held her down than she was over the stitches. Once we let her up she was happy.”
Above all else, she was more than what happened at 5:30 p.m. on October 15, her mother said.
“To know her was to love her,” Folse said. “She had a beautiful soul. She was innocence in its purest form. She was everything I could've ever asked for in a daughter. She was my Heaven. And she always will be. There is nothing I would not have done for my princess. I wish I could've been outside to save her that day, but [people] keep telling me God needed his angel back and that she's in a better place.”
Shelbie was buried on November 2 in Rogers Cemetery in her native Louisiana. A GoFundMe page created by a family friend on behalf of the Folses helped to raise money to bring her back home.
“We are eternally grateful to each and every one of you,” Folse wrote to donors as contributions rolled in. “You have went out of your way to share and donate to my beautiful angel princess and we can't thank you enough.”
Nearing the one-month anniversary of their daughter’s death, the Folses are working through their grief, but it’s not easy.
“It's hard to get up and move every day and everyday it seems as if it gets harder. But I wake up and get up and try to keep strong for my son and my husband,” Folse said.
But not one moment passes for Folse without thoughts of her daughter.
“What would she be doing if she was still here? What I wouldn't give to hear her voice call my name, or see her crawling into my bed late at night when she couldn't sleep,” Folse explains. “Just to wrap her in her blanket and hold her one more time. It hurts so much it's almost unbearable. I have reasons to keep going and I have to raise my son who is lost without her. And my husband who still has nightmares for her.
“One day we will be able to manage the feelings better but it won't be for a long time. I'm taking one day at a time. I just wanted you to know more than just what had happened. I wanted to let you know who she was and what made her so special.”