Condolences poured in for retired NFL player Todd Heap and his family on Saturday, a day after police said the former Pro Bowl tight end accidentally ran over his 3-year-old daughter with a truck, killing her.
Heap was moving the truck at his home in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, on Friday when he struck the girl, police said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Messages of support and prayers for Heap and his family were offered by former teammates and current NFL players after they learned of the tragedy.
My heart is broken for Todd Heap and his family. One of the kindest persons I’ve ever met and a man who lives for his family. 🙏🏻🙏🏻
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) April 15, 2017
Absolutely gutted for Todd Heap and his family. Thoughts are with them in this incredibly tough time.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) April 15, 2017
Prayers up for Todd Heap and his family
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) April 15, 2017
Praying for Todd Heap and his family. It could happen to anybody, and I can’t imagine the grief.
— Chad Greenway (@chadgreenway52) April 15, 2017
Oh my 💔 for Todd Heap and his family
— Pierre Garçon (@PierreGarcon) April 15, 2017
So heartbroken for the Heap family. I pray for God’s comfort during this excruciating loss of life. https://t.co/G6NM9hpL6w
— O.J. Brigance (@OJBrigance) April 15, 2017
The incident happened in the driveway of a home in the gated community of Las Sendas. Police responded to a car/pedestrian accident at about 3:45 p.m. and were told the girl was on the driveway when Heap moved the truck forward and hit her.
Mesa police Detective Steve Berry said the investigation into the accident continues, but there are no suspicious circumstances and no signs of impairment. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s office has not released the girl’s identity or ruled on a cause of death.
Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Heap by telephone Saturday were unsuccessful.
The Baltimore Ravens, Heap’s longtime former team, issued a statement calling the accident “knee-buckling news and an overwhelmingly sad tragedy.”
Statement from the Baltimore Ravens organization: pic.twitter.com/P6arCBU7mP
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 15, 2017
Heap spent 10 seasons with the Ravens, who selected him in the first round out of Arizona State in 2001. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, played two games the following season and officially retired in 2013, with 42 career touchdowns.
A member of the Ravens’ Ring of Honor, Heap made the Pro Bowl after the 2002 and ’03 seasons and was a second-team All-Pro in 2003. He is the Ravens’ career leader in touchdown receptions and is second in overall receptions and receiving yards.
The Cardinals called the death “a grief that is beyond words and one which no family should experience. Hopefully the prayers, love and support of their incredible group of friends and family provide him the comfort that, along with their strong faith, will lead them through this unspeakably difficult time.”
Heap is from a Mormon family that stretches its lineage to the early days of the faith. Since 2007, he and his wife have operated a foundation to help sick and disadvantaged children. He talked about family being the most important thing in his life in a 2015 interview with Kevin Byrne, the Ravens’ senior vice president for public and community relations.
“I just got done jumping on the trampoline with my 2-year-old daughter,” Heap told Byrne, “and it’s hard to get a bigger smile than that. I took all three of my boys golfing this morning. That was a lot of fun. [My wife] Ashley makes me smile every day. Family and all of the events we do — that regularly makes me smile.”
Heap, 37, grew up in Mesa, led his high school football team to two state championships and was a standout at Arizona State before he left early for the NFL.
“The Heaps have contributed so much to the Arizona State Sun Devils, Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals communities, and we hope their family, friends and our respective communities can provide them with love and support as they work through this unspeakable heartbreak,” Arizona State said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.