Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Suspected Drunk Driver Killed Female Iraq Homeless Veteran in Wheelchair

August 23, 2016

Elaine Heyl stopped by an outreach center in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood on Friday and gave photos and her family’s address in the South to one of the staffers there.

“She gave me two pictures … and she gave me her family’s address in South Carolina and said, ‘If I were to die at any point, this is where you send my information,'” Elvis Rosado, of Prevention Point Philadelphia recalled Monday.

Rosado never imagined he’d have to mail the package so soon.

Hours later, early Saturday morning, as Heyl sat in her wheelchair at Mascher Street and Lehigh Avenue — the corner where the woman, a homeless Iraq War veteran, was a permanent fixture for years — a man police say was driving drunk down Lehigh Avenue crashed into her.

Heyl, known as Lanie to most, died a short time later at the hospital. She was 37.

Rosado said he knew Heyl, an Air Force veteran who he said served in Iraq, from working at Prevention Point on Kensington Avenue, a center that provides a health clinic and other outreach services to people facing homelessness and addiction. He said she battled post-traumatic stress disorder and was never able to get the help she needed.

“She was trying really hard to get help, but unfortunately, the system is kind of slow, so she started to self-medicate,” Rosado said. “Unfortunately, self-medication turned to addiction.”
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