JSRCC campus stunned by dean's death

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – The J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College campus is mourning the sudden loss of a longtime leader.

Dr. Robert Heinz was dean of the School of Business and Engineering. The 68-year-old was killed in a car crash Wednesday at the intersection of Parham Road and Lydell Drive just as he was leaving work.

What's ironic, is that the dean worked tirelessly on automobile safety issues. In fact, one of the last things he talked about was some good news he shared with a colleague.

Dr. Robert Heinz was big into automotive safety, and at 4:26 p.m. Wednesday, he sent a text message. It delighted in the news that two new courses in automobile technology were approved.

The text was sent to Dr. David Loope

"He spent countless hours working on this particular interest that he had," said Loope, VP of Academic Affairs.

Loope responded 27 minutes later, but little did he know Heinz was already gone, killed just minutes earlier in the violent crash.

"I was just absolutely stunned and terribly saddened, as we all are," Loope said.

The 11-year veteran of J. Sargeant Reynolds was remembered Thursday as a scholar and a gentleman whose death may one day be a call to action.

Students and staff told us it was not the first crash they've seen at this intersection, so we went to Henrico Police to find out just how many there have been recently.

Henrico Police said at Lydell and Parham there have been six other crashes from September 2010-September 2011, with two involving injuries. Nobody was killed. The roads are controlled by stoplights, but it wasn't immediately clear if further safety improvements are necessary.

Back on campus, it may have looked like an ordinary, sunny day, but to those who knew Bob Heinz, it felt much worse.

"Thinking of how fragile life can be, and how terrible it is for the best of us to be taken away so abruptly," Loope said.

Grief counselors were also on hand Thursday. They'll be back Friday to help students, faculty, and staff deal with this sudden loss.

Police said the other driver, who survived the impact, remains in the hospital with leg injuries. Still no word on what, if any, charges will be filed in the crash or who's at fault.

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