Despite wearing a helmet, Army Specialist Jason Smith died Wednesday night after a motorcycle crash near Morgan and Oakhill. He was an organ donor, but now a grieving and mourning family needs donations of a different kind.
Army Specialist Jason Smith was a man of strength. He had the strength to serve overseas. He had the strength to protect here at home. However, Sarah Heineman was his weakness.
"We met when we came home on leave from Iraq and I came home to rose pedals all over my bed," said Heineman. "There was a teddy bear and a picture saying I'll see you soon baby."
The rose pedals blossomed into a budding, loving relationship. For nearly four years, family described the couple as unstoppable. That was, until, Tuesday afternoon.
"His buddy called and said I'm not trying to scare you but you need to go down and check out this motorcycle accident," said Heineman.
It was Jason.
He swerved to avoid a car and lost control. The crash cracked his ribs, collapsed his lungs and ruptured his spleen. But for two days he kept fighting.
"Jason was one of the most stubborn people I've ever met in my life," said Heineman. "He proved it on his deathbed. The whole time on two collapsed lungs on a ventilator, he was breathing over it."
In life, Spc. Smith was Army strong. In death, he was even stronger.
"We already knew he was brain dead and he wasn't going to come out of it, but with his family standing around him he laid there and cried," said Heineman. "Finally, we didn't want him to fight it anymore, we let him know it was ok. It was his time and he could go."
A fiance never expects to say goodbye. It's much like a mother never expects to bury her son let along having trouble paying for it.
"With the funeral, you have to pay for it before you have it. And I'm just so scared that we're not going to be able to do it by Monday," said Heineman. "He deserves this. It's not about us, it's not about the money, he deserves this."
"I loved him but the love I have for him would never compare to a mother's love. And I guess knowing that she is going to have to bury her baby, it just kicked in. I don't know where the strength came from, I don't know"
In life, this Army specialist was strong. In his death, this woman who would have been an Army spouse is now stronger. Perhaps, just as strong as the diamonds on her left ring finger.
"I'm at that age where all my friends are getting married and I'm happy for them," said Heineman. "But it's going to be hard not to be selfish and think I finally found the one who loved me as much as I loved him. I'm not going to get that."
If you'd like to donate to the Spc. Jason Smith fund, you can stop by any Old National Bank and mention the fund or Sarah's name.
His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. The Patriot Guard and Rolling Thunder will do their part in giving Jason a proper burial.