Monday, July 27, 2009

Man who died saving girl was extremely ill young homeless man

Man who died saving girl was extremely ill

By BARBARA LaBOE, The Longview Daily News KELSO, Wash. (AP) - Allen Heck has been hailed a hero since running into the Cowlitz River last week to save a 9-year-old girl, losing his own life in the process. Unknown by most is that Heck was an extremely ill young homeless man with the simple goal of living to his 21st birthday.

The 20-year-old Longview man had drifted for about three years after diabetes barred him from the only job he ever wanted - serving in the Army. Directionless, he made some bad decisions, family and friends admit, and was living at the Community House shelter at the time of the drowning.

But despite frequent hospitalizations for diabetes and complications and the news he only had a few years to live, at best Heck kept trying to put his life back together, family and friends said. And his actions one week ago surprised no one who knew him.
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