TACOMA - The community of Eatonville and area law enforcement agencies are banding together to help the daughter of a Pierce County sheriff's deputy after a car wreck that doctors say likely will leave her paralyzed from the chest down.
Richelle Heacock, 20, was hurt Monday while on her way home from college to join her parents for Tuesday’s memorial service for deputy Kent Mundell. The slain deputy was a colleague of her father, deputy John Heacock, in the sheriff’s Mountain Detachment.
“Richelle wanted to ride with us in the procession,” John Heacock said Friday. “She was going to meet us Monday night.”
Richelle Heacock was driv- ing north from Oregon City, Ore., where she is a sophomore at Clackamas Community College. On state Route 7, near Elbe, her Lincoln Mark VIII began to drift outside the lane.
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To avoid an incoming car, she swerved; her car hit a ditch and flipped. A passerby saw the wreck and called for help.
John Heacock and his wife, Peggy, were at Jebino’s Ristorante & Lounge in Eatonville for a fundraiser for Mundell’s family when they heard the news of the accident. They hurried to the hospital in Morton where Richelle was being treated.
She was moved to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she was in serious condition Friday.
“What’s really hard is to accept it,” said John Heacock, momentarily overcome by tears. “Everything in her life has been focused on sports, but that’s not who she is as a person.”
An Eatonville High School 2008 graduate, Richelle Hea- cock was an avid basketball and volleyball player who attended Clackamas Community College on a volleyball scholarship.
She wants to become a high school teacher and volleyball coach, her father said.
Friends and co-workers of the family want to remodel the Heacocks’ house east of Ash- ford to accommodate Richelle’s injury when she comes home.
More than 200 people turned out for the first volunteer organizing meeting Friday night at the Eatonville Community Center. Among those mingling in the converted gym space were representatives of the Sheriff’s Department along with members of the Tacoma, Lakewood, Eatonville and Federal Way police departments.
Most of the Mountain Detachment attended, including deputy Nick Hausner, who was wounded in the Dec. 21 shooting that killed Mundell. Two large photos of Richelle Heacock were taped on the wall, behind the basketball hoop.
Sgt. Jim Heishman, senior supervisor of the Mountain Detachment, is helping lead the project. He described it as an old-fashioned “barn raising.”
“This is a community that wants to get its hands dirty and help this family,” he added.
John Heacock recalled his daughter’s grace under pressure during a basketball game her freshman or sophomore year of high school.
A basketball smacked her in the face, dislocating her nose. She went to the bathroom, wiped off the blood, pushed her nose back and finished the game.
“She’s young, she’s strong, she’s got the willpower,” he said. “We’re going on the determination that Richelle has.”