“This person devastated our entire family and all their friends. If they have any conscience or decency, they need to come forward and own up to what they did. Give our family some measure of peace,” pleads Lawrence, who thanks the public for providing numerous tips to the RCMP and Crime Stoppers.
“It is unscrupulous that you are doing something so horrific and not stopping to help or to see what you have done. We have to live with that for the rest of our lives, and so does the driver. Anyone who knows something must report him or her.”
RCMP say rdnewsNOW that there is no new information to share as of August 5, 2022.
The incident occurred around 6:45 p.m. on the night of July 6 at the extension of 40 Avenue (RR 273) near McKenzie Road [near Red Deer, Alberta].
The description of the suspect vehicle is as follows:
· A dark sedan, possibly a BMW
After-market rims (described as cheap looking)
· Older model
· Dark gray or black matt; bad paintwork
· Significant front damage, particularly to the windshield
The second vehicle description reads as follows:
· White SUV
· Got off the road to avoid a collision
Lawrence says Heather should go to a family reunion in BC the next day; Bags were packed and meals planned.
Instead, the family planned a funeral and sank into a vast “black hole of grief.”
“She was so committed to the family. We texted daily and often spoke on video. Now my phone is beeping and it’s never her that hurts so much. She’d come to the Okanagan, recharged her batteries, and ridden her bike all the way to SilverStar as part of her ongoing training. She spoke to her sister Amanda every Sunday and drove to Edmonton to visit her brother,” says Lawrence, noting that Heather had no immediate family.
“She also had four nieces and nephews and was a handy aunt. She promised the four of them – and had done with two – that when they turned 11 each, she would fly them out and spend the week with them; she took them to Drumheller, Calgary Zoo, to Wibit on Sylvan Lake and ate ice cream every day. Our eight-year-old granddaughter was looking forward to it.”
After graduating from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Heather, 45, joined Red Deer in 2004.
After working at Red Deer Regional Hospital for some time, one day she called her mother.
“Mom, I landed my dream job working with children at Children’s Rehabilitation Services,” Lawrence proudly recalls of her daughter.
“She spoke about her ‘kiddos’ and how she helped with this program called You Can Ride 2, which taught children how to ride bikes when families were struggling because of the children’s physical challenges. She called me one day so excited because one of her kids had learned to ride a horse and the kid was so excited too. She really loved her job.”
Heather was also a longtime member of the Central Alberta Bicycle Club and competed in the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation 12 Hour Ride as well as the MS Bike Ride.
The next 12-hour drive will be in Heather’s honor, with funds raised going to pediatric services, says Manon Therriault, the foundation’s CEO and, more importantly, Heather’s best friend.
The two were supposed to do the upcoming Whistler Gran Fondo together, but brother Shane will now be driving in Heather’s place.
“There seems to be a fairly common belief among motorists that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road, when in fact they have every right to be,” says Therriault. “If that opinion means you’re willing to take the risk of killing someone just because you don’t want to share the road…well, just because you don’t want to.” want Sharing roads with cyclists doesn’t mean you don’t to have to. Opinions don’t decide a crime at the end of the day.”
The Bicycle Club is looking at buying and raising awareness of Smart Headlights, which attach to the back of a bike and not only record video, but warn riders when a vehicle is approaching.
“The willingness among drivers to be on the road has changed since Heather’s death,” says Therriault.
For Marlene, they will always have memories of a mother-daughter trip to Ireland in 2017; and others from Heather playing Barbies and Minecraft with the kids, family Christmas together, family hikes in the mountains and more.
“If her father Stu or I weren’t doing well, she would be here first because she could get here more easily than her two siblings who have families,” she says. “Stu recently had cancer treatment and is doing well. Heather had called and said she would come in for his first treatment, after which he said he thought he would be fine and she didn’t need it. But she insisted. She was here for that in May and that was the last time we saw her alive.”
“Our family hopes that Heather’s death will not be in vain and that much-needed changes are made to the roads and particularly to how drivers perceive cyclists. It’s not that difficult to be polite!”
A memorial bike ride will be held in Heather’s honor on August 21, 2022, beginning with speeches at Red Deer City Hall at 10:00 am. The ride ends at the crash site, where a “ghost bike” memorial will be erected Friends.
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