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Amber Alert

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Knapp Teacher Dies In Accident

A first-year special education teacher at Knapp Elemen-tary School was killed on her way to school Monday morning on an ice-covered off-ramp connecting U.S. 12 and Interstate 94 in Berrien County, Mich. Kristen Lyn Heimbach, 27, Three Oaks, died when her car crossed into the path of a tractor-trailer at 8:30 a.m. in New Buffalo Township, according to Michigan State Police. Reports said Heimbach apparently lost control of her car on the slick roadway and slid into the path of a tractor-trailer, which hit her car and pinned it against a guardrail.

Police said Heimbach was trapped inside her car, and when a Michigan State Police Motor Carrier officer came across the accident, Heimbach was unresponsive. The Berrien County medical examiner pronounced her dead at the scene.

Although Heimbach had been with Michigan City Area Schools only since August, she had made a tremendous impact, said Joan McCormick, director of special education for MCAS.

"When I met Kristen, I knew immediately I wanted her in Michigan City," said McCormick. "She entered the school system with energy. She was very bright, very knowledgeable and put a sparkle on our department." Heimbach, who previously taught computers to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders at St. Mary of Lake Catholic School in New Buffalo, Mich., was also a volunteer swimming coach for Special Olympics and was due to graduate with a master's degree in special education from Indiana University-South Bend in the spring. She received her undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

The Rev. Jim Morris of St. Mary of the Lake parish in New Buffalo said Heimbach taught at the school for two years. "The kids here are all torn up over this," Morris said. "Before the basketball game tonight, one of the players asked for a moment of silence for her."

Morris said Heimbach connected with her students and it wasn't uncommon for them to keep in touch with her. "Teachers like her are not easy to find," he said

Knapp Elementary School Principal Tim Glidden said Heimbach was "an exciting young teacher.

"She was always smiling, she was always a positive person, she was always professional," Glidden said Monday evening. "She was one of those people who was born to be a teacher. She had a great way with students."

Pyllis Stark, president of the Michigan City Education Association, said, "Our thoughts are with her family. The energy, the spark, the enthusiasm she brought to work will be missed. It's not only a loss for her family, but it's a loss to our profession."

McCormick described Heimbach as "very bright" and someone who loved to teach special education.

Betsy Kohn, spokeswoman for MCAS, said, "She was a rare individual who walks in and makes a difference. She was a young, shining star who blessed us when she landed in our district. Our sympathies go out to her family."

Kohn said MCAS will have counselors available for both teachers and students today.

Heimbach's parents, Ed and Bev Heimbach, and her younger brother, Jace, live in Union Pier, Mich. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.


Eric Glaze said...

9 month aniversary today..... we all love you mrs heimbach.... it wasnt your time we love you...- Eric Glaze

Eric Glaze said...

10 months 11 days... =\ we love you