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Rocklin mourns Heidi Greenwood

RHS cross country star dies at 18 years old
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald and Press Tribune editor
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The Rocklin High School campus is awash in purple – ribbons are tied around fence posts, handmade signs from schools across the region have gone up to show support. At a soccer game, RHS players wore purple ribbons in their hair – and so did the rival team. Even more purple ribbons line the favorite trail of a cross-country runner whose life was cut short just weeks after her 18th birthday.

Heidi Greenwood had only lived in Rocklin for about three and a half years, but her bright personality and equally bright smile made an impression on the community – evidenced by the more than 1,000 people who arrived at her memorial service Saturday to say goodbye.

Her death has stunned classmates and teammates – there was seemingly no reason why the healthy, athletic young woman would die so suddenly. But a blood clot in her leg made its way to her lungs, and after collapsing at home Wednesday, Greenwood never regained consciousness.

“We’ve been told by all of the doctors that with the case of a blood clot in the lungs, it’s usually a very quick death,” said Greenwood’s brother-in-law, Tolson Nichols. He, like many of Greenwood’s family members, arrived quickly at her bedside, traveling from Utah to be with Greenwood, her parents, Brian and Paige, and her six brothers and sisters. “People usually pass within the hour, and so we felt it was such a miracle she held on for two days and gave family and friends time to come in and see her.”

Greenwood died early Friday morning, two days after her mother found her unconscious. Nichols said Greenwood hadn't been feeling well Tuesday evening, and so had stayed home from school Wednesday. When her mother discovered her unconscious, she immediately called 911, ran next door to have the neighbors speak to the 911 dispatcher and then administered CPR herself, Nichols said. First responders arrived and took over CPR for about 45 minutes to an hour, until Greenwood had a steady pulse, and Greenwood was put into the ICU.

As family arrived from around the country, so too did local friends – so many that the staff at Sutter Roseville Medical Center had to ask them to leave because they were filling the halls.

A Facebook page was quickly created to update supporters about Greenwood’s condition, and close friends and family have been maintaining the page to provide information about memorial services. A funeral will be held this week in Utah, which Nichols described as the “central location” of Greenwood’s family.

“She just lived life with her heart open,” Nichols said. “She loved everyone.”

Greenwood, who turned 18 on March 2, was a cross-country runner and devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who cared immensely about children. She had just been accepted to Brigham Young University in Hawaii, where she planned to run cross country. Her favorite color was purple.

“She was just so good with kids,” Nichols said. “She wanted to be a teacher, and a mom. If you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would always say she wanted to be a mom.”

Rocklin High senior Brennan Flentge ran track and cross country with Greenwood, and said he always looked up to her.

“In 10th grade she always had faster times than me, and I won’t lie, I didn’t like it very much,” he shared via email. “I was surprised as just how fast she was and I remember just wanting to be as fast as her.”

Eventually Flentge was able to catch up to Greenwood, and the two trained together as a team. He said she was an inspiration, as she was always passionate about running, despite having asthma and some back problems. Flentge said that as soon as the girls varsity race was over, she would go cheer on the guys, and he could always single her out while he was racing, hearing her cheer on him and the rest of the team.

“This is such a tragedy,” he wrote. “The one good thing that came out of this, if there even was anything good that came out of this, is that our team is so incredibly close now.”

Flentge said the team is ready to support Heidi’s sister, who is also on the cross country and track teams, and that his heart “pours out” for the Greenwood family.

“I hope that our team can do something special for Heidi,” he wrote. “I will never forget Heidi Greenwood and the smile that she brought to practice every single day.”

“She had a future ahead of her, and it was so sad,” Greenwood’s father shared. “She was excited about so many things, and to not be able to be here for all of them is heartbreaking to us.”

Brian Greenwood said that through that heartbreak, the family has recognized and deeply appreciated the outpouring of support for Greenwood. Brian Greenwood, who serves in the Air Force, said that while the family has only lived in Rocklin for a short time, he was moved by how many people have shown their love for his daughter. He attributed that to her kindness and knack for showing everybody she came across that she truly cared about them.

“In her own sweet, personal way,” he said, “she touched a lot of lives.”