The man killed in a Kersley motor vehicle collision just after Christmas on Highway 97 is being remembered by his daughter as a lifelong giver of service.
On the dark, icy, foggy evening of Dec. 30, James Richard (Rick) Heggie took notice of a vehicle that had gone off the road not far from his home south of Quesnel. He set to work helping the people involved and trying to direct oncoming traffic. It was then he was unable to avoid an oncoming vehicle on the slippery roads with poor visibility. The vehicle struck him, sending him to hospital with serious injuries that eventually took his life on Jan. 22.
Heggie was not acting out of inexperienced passion; he was once a professional before moving from the United States to Kersley about five years ago to retire.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my dad,” said his daughter, Dona Gutierrez. “I am proud of the fact that my dad was a veteran of the US army; I am proud of the fact that my dad was a police officer. Police officers don’t really get the respect that they truly deserve, especially down here in Texas. My dad was one of the good ones. My dad will always have the utmost respect from me.”
Gutierrez has a security guard career underway in Texas and cannot get away to deal with her father’s estate affairs in Canada. Heggie moved to Kersley in the first place to be close to his longtime friend and her daughter, people Gutierrez considers her godmother and godsister.
She was only beginning to get to know Heggie after only knowing her father in a peripheral way during childhood and more closely connecting in recent years.
“My dad was a Texan, born and bred. He’s the youngest of four. His older brother passed years ago. His two older sisters live in Texas. I am the only biological child,” Gutierrez said. “I’m still trying to piece together other aspects of his life … I’m still learning more about him.”
Heggie enjoyed the snow and cold winters of Canada, she said. He owned a number of cats, which his goddaughter, Meghan Zimmerman, has had to intervene with for their care. She is also the one coordinating the decisions over his possessions, in long distance consultation with Gutierrez.
The main thing left behind was a family legacy of kindness and service to others, said his daughter. Whenever they would talk, he was constantly turning the conversation into listening to her express her emotions and unload her troubles. He was especially excited by Gutierrez’s advancements in her security and private investigations career, opening her own business around that.
“I will always remember the fact that my dad died a hero,” she said. “His grandchildren will tell you themselves that their grandfather died a hero. He was my hero, he was their hero. He was born to be a hero and he died doing something he loved that was helping people.”
A GoFundMe page has been started to help cover the costs involved in closing Heggie’s estate.