Elaine Heyl, known to many as Laine, was an Air Force veteran who had served in Iraq. Upon coming home, Heyl was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and quickly found herself to be homeless. Even though she tried, Heyl never seemed to get the help she so desperately needed.
Elvis Roasado, a close friend of Heyl's shared,
"She was trying really hard to get help, but unfortunately, the system is kind of slow, so she started to self-medicate...Unfortunately, self-medication soon turned to addiction".
"It's a catch-22 with the system because, you figure, she was offered help through the VA recently, in the last two years, but they said to her a lot of times, 'If you stop using and get yourself in order, we can help,'" he said. "But the problem was she was using because she couldn't get help. The PTSD has to be addressed in order to stop using, and she can't stop using because she needs the help. So that kept her out there. They couldn't help."
Heyl was 37-years-old and wheelchair bound. She had lost her leg to frostbite years ago after falling asleep outside.
Heyl tended to stay in the Kensington area and would almost always be found on the corner of Lehigh Avenue and Mascher Street. Despite her condition, Heyl was well like by the local community. Many individuals made friends with her and would bring her food daily.
Kathy Given is a homeless outreach officer in the neighborhood and admits,
"She's a very kind soul...She really is a wonderful person and really deserves to be recognized for who she really was".
Unfortunately at about 1:40 a.m., Heyl was hit by a drunk driver and died shortly after. After the driver hit Heyl, he proceeded to hit an 18-year-old woman before he was finally stopped.
The driver has been identified as Andrew Acito. He was arrested shortly after the incident. Acito has a history of drunk driving arrests and now faces charges for homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter.
"She was amazing. She had an amazing heart, she was an amazing woman," Rosado said. "She deserved better."
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