Athena Strand’s father suing FedEx, contractor who hired driver acccused of kidnapping, killing child

Reports: Jacob Strand, Athena Strand’s father, is suing FedEx, Big Topspin, and suspect Tanner Lynn Horner

Athena Strand (Wise County Sheriff's Office)

The father of a 7-year-old girl who authorities say was abducted and killed by a FedEx driver in North Texas has filed a lawsuit against the suspect, the delivery company and a Dallas-based contractor that hired him, according to media reports.

CNN and WFAA reported that Jacob Strand, Athena Strand’s father, is suing FedEx and Big Topspin for gross negligence and the suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, for assault. The Strand family is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The lawsuit states that FedEx and Big Topspin, which hired Horner, did not properly supervise him and did not implement the proper safety policies.

The lawsuit, obtained by CNN, states: “FedEx has continued their normal business operations although it is clear that their current efforts, if any, to ensure that they are not putting dangerous persons in a position of trust wearing FedEx uniforms, driving FedEx branded vehicles, and sending them to the doorsteps of the homes of nearly every person in America is woefully inadequate to avoid endangering the public.”

Horner had told authorities that he accidentally struck the child with his van as he made a delivery at her home in Paradise, a city about 60 miles northwest of Dallas, according to an arrest warrant.

She wasn’t seriously injured, but he said he panicked and put her into his van, the affidavit states. Horner said he didn’t want to tell her dad what happened, so he tried to break her neck in an attempt to kill her.

When that didn’t work, he strangled her in the van, the affidavit states.

Athena’s parents reported her missing, and two days later, on Dec. 2, her body was found. The affidavit states that Horner led authorities to her body.

He was booked on Dec. 3 on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping at the Wise County Jail.

During a news conference last week, the girl’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said the package that Horner dropped off that day was a Christmas present for Athena — a box of “You Can Be Anything” Barbies.

“I was robbed of watching her grow up,” Gandy said.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.