Sym­pa­thies pour in af­ter Heap tragedy

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS -

five chil­dren.

Author­i­ties said Heap ac­ci­den­tally ran over and killed his 3-year-old daugh­ter as he was mov­ing his truck in the drive­way of his sub­ur­ban Phoenix home. The girl was taken to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal where she was pro­nounced dead, author­i­ties said.

“We can­not imag­ine the heart­break and sor­row Todd and Ash­ley’s fam­ily feels right now. This is knee­buck­ling news and an over­whelm­ingly sad tragedy,” the Ravens or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment Sat­ur­day morn­ing. “Our pray­ers, our thoughts and our hearts are with the Heaps, who have con­trib­uted so much to the Ravens and Baltimore com­mu­nity. We be­lieve their deep faith and tremen­dous sup­port from friends and fam­ily will help them through this unimag­in­able time.”

The ac­ci­dent, which hap­pened at about 3:45 p.m. Fri­day, re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but im­pair­ment was not a fac­tor, ac­cord­ing to Mesa (Ariz.) po­lice.

Heap, 37, was born in Mesa and starred at Arizona State be­fore be­ing se­lected by the Ravens in the first round of the 2001 draft. He was with the team from 2001 to 2010 be­fore mov­ing on to spend two in­jury-filled sea­sons with his home­town Arizona Car­di­nals in 2011 and 2012.

With the Ravens, Heap ap­peared in 133 reg­u­lar-sea­son games and made 467 catches for 5,492 yards, both rank­ing him sec­ond in fran­chise his­tory be­hind Der­rick Ma­son. His 41 re­ceiv­ing touch­downs and 74 con­sec­u­tive games with a re­cep­tion still stand as Ravens records. He was se­lected to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003.

Heap, who re­mains close friends with sev­eral cur­rent Ravens, in­clud­ing quar­ter­back Joe Flacco and tight end Den­nis Pitta, has re­turned to Baltimore on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions over the past cou­ple of years for dif­fer­ent team and char­ity events. Any time he ap­pears on the sta­dium video screens, he’s ser­e­naded with chants of “Heeeeeap!”

“This is very sad. Todd is an in­cred­i­ble fam­ily man, and fam­ily has al­ways been ex­tremely im­por­tant to him. His kids are very im­por­tant, plus he is one of the nicest peo­ple you will ever meet,” said Peter Boul­ware, Heap’s long­time Ravens team­mate. “This breaks my heart. He knows that our pray­ers and the pray­ers of the Ravens ex­tended fam­ily go out to him. If there is any­thing we can do, he knows we will reach out. I have five kids my­self, so I can’t imag­ine any­thing like this.”

For­mer Ravens tackle Jonathan Og­den heard the news shortly af­ter he re­turned from a Hawaii va­ca­tion with his fam­ily.

“This is so dis­turb­ing. I can’t imag­ine the pain he is go­ing through right now,” Og­den said. “He has got to carry this the rest of his life, and he is go­ing to think about it quite of­ten. Man, there are no words. There is noth­ing I can say to tell you how I feel right now. Our thoughts and pray­ers are with him and his fam­ily. He has to keep the faith, got to keep mov­ing and some­how get on with his life. This is just ter­ri­ble and I just wish there was some­thing I could do. I’m at a loss for words. I feel for him.”

A de­vout Mor­mon and one of six si­b­lings, Heap talked reg­u­larly about mak­ing an im­pact off the field. He par­tic­u­larly en­joyed help­ing chil­dren. In 2007, he pledged $1 mil­lion to­ward a new pe­di­atric cen­ter at what is now MedS­tar Franklin Square Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

The Todd Heap Fam­ily Pe­di­atric Cen­ter of­fers a com­bined pe­di­atric emer­gency de­part­ment and in­pa­tient unit with around-the-clock pe­di­a­tri­cian staffing, the first of its kind in Baltimore County.

“We are so deeply sad­dened by this un­speak­able tragedy fac­ing our friend, Todd Heap, and his fam­ily,” said Sa­muel E. Moskowitz, pres­i­dent of MedS­tar Franklin Square Med­i­cal Cen­ter and se­nior vice pres­i­dent for MedS­tar Health.

“It was with his kind, heart­felt sup­port in 2007 that we opened the Todd Heap Fam­ily Pe­di­atric Cen­ter in the emer­gency de­part­ment at MedS­tar Franklin Square Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where ev­ery child who has come through those doors since gen­tly re­minds us of the in­deli­ble legacy Todd left in our com­mu­nity. On be­half of all of us at MedS­tar Franklin Square, we of­fer our pray­ers and sup­port to the Heap fam­ily dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time.”

For­mer and cur­rent Ravens, along with other NFL lu­mi­nar­ies, took to so­cial me­dia to send well wishes.

“Ab­so­lutely gut­ted for Todd Heap and his fam­ily,” Hous­ton Tex­ans star de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt wrote. “Thoughts are with them in this in­cred­i­bly tough time.”

Like the Ravens, the Car­di­nals also put out a state­ment of sup­port. It read: “Our hearts go out to Todd, Ash­ley and the Heap fam­ily. It is a grief that is be­yond words and one in which no fam­ily should ever ex­pe­ri­ence. Hope­fully, the pray­ers, love and sup­port of their in­cred­i­ble group of friends and fam­ily pro­vide them com­fort that along with their strong faith will lead them through this un­speak­ably dif­fi­cult time.”

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