Apr 11, 2013 2:40 PM by Kirsten Bennett
A family reeling in the grief of tragic loss hopes that sharing their son's story will prevent future crashes caused by texting and driving.
At 5:16 p.m., Greeley Police Officers and rescue personnel were dispatched to a single vehicle, rollover traffic accident on the outskirts of Greeley. The driver, Alexander Heit, 22, of Boulder was transported by ambulance to North Colorado Medical Center where he died a short time later.
Heit was in Greeley studying Audiology at the University of Northern Colorado. He was a good student and well liked in his classes. Colorado-raised with an affinity for being in the mountains, he loved being with his family, snowboarding in the winter and hiking in the summer. Friends and family remember Heit's quick sense of humor, and his calm, kind presence.
"I can't bear the thought of anyone else having to go through something like this," said Sharon Heit, Alexander Heit's mom. "Please, vow to never, NEVER text and drive. In a split second you could ruin your future, injure or kill others, and tear a hole in the heart of everyone who loves you. And in honor of Alex's memory, please do something kind for a stranger who needs help, as Alex always wished for a world were people were kinder to each other."
Heit had been traveling eastbound on "O" Street from 35th Avenue, on a turn with a very narrow, dirt shoulder and a steep drop. Witnesses report he seemed to have his head down, and began drifting into the oncoming lane of traffic. A westbound vehicle slowed and moved over just before Mr. Heit looked up. As he did, he jerked the steering wheel hard, over-correcting, resulting in his leaving the south side of the roadway, rolling and flipping the vehicle.
As officers investigated and searched the accident scene they discovered Heit's cell phone in the vehicle. Visible on the display was a text message conversation with the last received text being at 5:16 p.m. There was a partial response typed below, but it was never sent. Heit had a spotless driving record and was not speeding.
While laws have been passed and public announcements made, texting and driving is still happening. "Unfortunately, when we think to ourselves, ‘I'll just do it this one time,' we are fooling ourselves," said Chief Jerry Garner. This "one time" may be the only time. The Heit's are sharing their tragedy and loss, in hope that through Alex's story, others may realize and recognize just how dangerous texting and driving is. If this tragic, senseless accident can be a learning experience for others, perhaps others will be saved.