Benton's Scott and Gwen Hartley for years have shared their journey caring for their two daughters, Claire and Lola. The sisters, born five years apart, were born with Microcephaly. With the birth defect, a child is born with a head that is much smaller compared with babies of the same age and sex.
The sisters had special needs and needed extra care with their condition, but it did not hold the family back. Claire Hartley died Tuesday. In an emotional post on her Facebook page, Gwen Hartley said Claire's body systems shut down, "possibly due to a catastrophic virus."
Gwen says local EMS and police "worked lovingly and thoroughly to try to save her life, but were not able to restart her heart."
"Her body had fulfilled its mission on Earth, and Claire earned her angel wings," Gwen wrote. "We are completely shattered, in total disbelief and heartbroken beyond comprehension. We know how many lives she impacted in her short 17 years and we are so proud of her for living and loving life to its fullest."
Claire is survived by her parents, 12-year-old sister, Lola and her older brother, Cal.