Former NFL Player Unintentionally Kills 3-Year-Old Daughter in Tragic Accident

Todd Heap
Icon Sports Wire / Getty Images

Losing a child is something no parent should ever have to experience. But knowing your little one died as a result of a freak accident that you were a part of is beyond devastating. Former Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap accidentally hit and killed his 3-year-old daughter with his truck Friday evening in what can only be considered every parent's worst nightmare. 

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The 37-year-old dad was at the family's home in Mesa, Arizona, when he pulled his truck forward in his driveway and accidentally ran over his young daughter. She was pronounced dead a short time later at a Phoenix-area hospital.

Though the tragedy is still being investigated, authorities said Heap showed no signs of impairment at the time of the accident. 

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We can't even begin to imagine the grief that the former footballer and his wife, Ashley, who have four other children, are experiencing. Our hearts break for them and this little girl's siblings, who are undoubtedly feeling her loss so acutely. 

The well-being of children has long been a cause close to this dad's heart, as a Baltimore-based pediatric center was named for him in 2010 after he pledged $1 million to the facility. Additionally, his charitable foundation benefits children who are ill and disadvantaged.

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Unfortunately, tragic accidents like this one aren't as rare as we might hope. In fact, there were 39 "frontover" fatalities -- where someone accidentally hits a child with the front of his or her car -- involving children in 2016, according to Kidsandcars.org. The organization's website shows that more than 800 children have been killed over the past two decades in similar accidents, while "backovers" claimed the lives of more than 1,300 children during the same time period. 

When you drive a truck or a sport utility vehicle, it's often tough to see what is low to the ground and immediately in front of or behind you. Many of these vehicles now come equipped with cameras that help you see in reverse, but when it comes to driving forward, you're still on your own. 

With spring and summer on the way and kids playing outdoors into the dusk and evening hours, it makes sense to do a thorough check to make sure your children and your neighbors' little ones aren't in potentially dangerous spots that you'd never see once you're behind the wheel. Even if you're in a rush, taking a few seconds to check all sides of the car may be enough to prevent a lifetime of heartache.

What happened to Todd Heap's daughter is a tragedy no one could've ever foreseen, and our hearts go out to this family at this incredibly difficult time.

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