Heidi Johnson Blanks left behind two small children, two loving parents, two brothers and two towns full of people who will miss her enthusiasm and leadership when she was killed in a crash early Friday morning.
Blanks died around 2:30 a.m. Friday in a one-car crash on Jim McCarter Road near Clover, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Community and business leaders began mourning Blanks as soon as they heard the news Friday. She was a past president of the York Rotary Club and a member of the Greater York Chamber of Commerce's board of directors. She was an outdoorsman and a member of Ducks Unlimited. She was a Girl Scout troop leader. She was the body shop manager at Dunlap-Johnson Chevrolet in York, owned by her father, Joe Johnson. She was a friend to many.
"She's just the sweetest girl in the whole world," said York County Councilman Joe Cox. "I really hate it for the family. No parent should ever have to bury their child."
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Cox said he had just seen Blanks the day before at a Rotary Club meeting at which he had been asked to speak. Blanks had served as president of the group recently, only the second woman to hold the position in the group.
"I always kidded her because she had so much going on," he said. "I'm going to miss Heidi."
York Mayor Eddie Lee said he learned of the accident Friday morning.
"It's a small city, so when somebody experiences something like what happened to Heidi, we all experience it," Lee said.
Lee got to know Blanks over the last 15 to 20 years. He bought a series of cars from Dunlap-Johnson Chervrolet, where Blanks worked for her father.
"I know her from buying three cars from her dealership and having her work on them," Lee said.
He recalls the various hats Blanks wore in the community. Whether presiding over the Rotary Club meetings every Thursday, sitting on the Greater York Chamber of Commerce Board or organizing fundraisers for local schools, Blanks was always happy to help out, he said.
"Everything she did, she did with enthusiasm," he said. "She was enthusiastic about life."
Paul Boger, Executive Director of the Greater York Chamber of Commerce first met Blanks when she was in school with his daughter. Later he got to know her well as she served on the Chamber Board.
"It's tragic, a young life snuffed out like that in her prime," Boger said. "She had so many years of service left.
"She was willing to do almost anything she could. I hate that this happened."
The crash happened around 2:30 a.m. when a Chevy Malibu was going west on Boyd Road, said Lance Cpl. Jeff Gaskin of the S.C. Highway Patrol. Authorities believe the driver disregarded the stop sign at Jim McCarter Road, Gaskin said. The car went through the intersection, struck a tree and caught fire, he said. The driver was pronounced dead on the scene. Nobody else was in the car, according to the Highway Patrol.
The crash remains under investigation, Gaskin said.
Blanks' page on the social networking Web site Facebook was flooded with condolences from friends Friday night, and a separate Facebook page created in her memory identified her as the crash victim mentioned in a story posted at www.heraldonline.com Friday.
According to her Facebook profile, Blanks described herself as a "social bunny" who loved to spend time with her children and her friends.
A quote she left on her profile seems to sum up that attitude:
"Life is too short not to make the best of it and make it the best for the ones you hold dear and love. SMILE!!!"