Memphis soldier killed in training accident

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A National Guard soldier from Memphis was killed in an accident shortly after shipping off to California for training.

LaQuita Darnell said she learned of her daughter's death Monday when National Guard members came to her home.

"The initial shock of losing one of my children, I think that's been one of my worst fears, and to have it realized was hard," Darnell said.

Tennessee National Guard said Private First Class Tara Turnage died Monday morning in an accident at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California.

"The NTC is a harsh and unforgiving desert environment and is the most advanced training area in the world," Maj. Gen. Max Haston said. "As a veteran of several NTC rotations and having experienced combat—the NTC is harder.  This soldier was doing her job in this harsh environment and had an accident.  We mourn her loss and her absence will be felt throughout the Tennessee National Guard. I pray for her immediate family and her Guard family as we all hurt."

Details of the accident are not available due to pending investigations, according to Tennessee National Guard.

Darnell said Turnage loved being in the National Guard. She said her daughter was proud to serve her country.

"She was an all around good person. She was just adventurous and loving and spent her life looking for that in return," Darnell said.

The National Guard told Darnell it would soon ship Turnage's body back to the Mid-South. Darnell said the military told her it would cover all of Turnage's funeral services.

Turnage was recently engaged and a mother to a 7-year-old daughter.

"When she joined the military, she learned discipline and she became a better person--more responsible, a better mom," Darnell said. "She was finding her place in life, and I was very proud of that."

Turnage's family is now left alone to navigate a difficult road. Still, Darnell said she's proud of the legacy Turnage left for her young daughter.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam Tweeted condolences to Turnage's family and friends:

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