A ‘friendly and loving’ dad tragically died in a crash a day after his own father’s funeral.
Dean Heaven, 46, died on Saturday, May 1 as a result of injuries he sustained in a serious crash in Swansea, south Wales.
His heartbroken lifelong friend, Karl Rowland has paid tribute to “genuine and friendly” Dean on behalf of his family.
“When the news came out this morning about what happened on social media, nobody wanted to believe it was him,” Karl told Wales Online.
“I was at work when it happened. I’ve lost people over the years, but nothing has affected me the way losing Dean has. We knew how much of a good father he was and how he idolised his kids and grand kids, how well thought of he was.
“For the family to have gone through all that they have, it’s so much. I know that Dean’s daughter idolised her grandfather as well.
“To deal with such a tragic loss is bad enough for the family, but then to be faced with Dean’s passing is unthinkable – I can’t comprehend the words. Nobody wants to believe it has happened.”
Karl has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help the family pay for the funeral costs after losing Dean so suddenly.
He said: “I decided to start the page to help raise some money for the family as it was so sudden. He had just buried his own father the day before it happened. It’s knocked the whole family for six.
“We’d like to do a memorial for him as well because there were just so many people who knew him and we want to make sure they’ll never forget him.”
Karl had been friends with Dean since they were about three-years-old and said that throughout the time they’d known each other Dean had always been the most lovely person he had ever met.
“Even if you met him for a brief second you wouldn’t forget who he was one of the most genuine and friendly people you could meet – a lot of people say that about people once they die, but that’s exactly what he was.,” Karl said.
“We went to a school where there were a lot of children there from different backgrounds and he would be friends with everybody, he wasn’t just fixed to one crowd. He was the epitome of someone who everyone would like to be as a person.
“No matter what and no matter when, you could message Dean if you had a problem and he would reply and then check up on you to make sure everything was okay.
“I’m ex-army and I’ll never forget the time when I quit my job to start mental health nursing, Dean messaged me to say how proud of me he was. Dean was one of those people where nobody could say a bad word against him.”
Over the years the close school friends drifted slightly but would arrange meet-ups together. Karl said their next reunion, planned with Dean for after lockdown, wouldn’t feel the same without him.
“We had a reunion together a few years ago and I’ll never forget the photo we took on the day. We were standing in a group and Dean was at the back and it was as though he was looking out for us all,” he said.
“It was really difficult when we found out because we are all the same age. We’re all really going to miss him, he was honestly such a character.
“Every day he would make sure everyone was okay, he had a huge impact on so many people. We don’t want to say goodbye, it would be too difficult for us, so we want to celebrate his life. If it wasn’t for the coronavirus guidelines, there would be so many people who would be there [at his funeral].
“Dean worked in Wilko, Swansea, and everyone he worked with are really going to miss him as well because he was such a nice, positive person.
“He wouldn’t speak negatively and would find a way of making everyone laugh or smile in a room.”
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Karl said that in his spare time, Dean loved football and supported Liverpool, but no hobby would ever compare to the love he had for his children and grandchildren.
He said: “He was so passionate about his kids and grandkids – they were his real hobby and they meant the world to him. His children are such a credit to him, you can tell he has passed on a real strength of character.
“His leaving this life has undoubtedly left an unimaginable gap in the lives of his children that he adored, his family that loved him, and at a time of already grieving over the loss of his father.”
South Wales Police is asking anyone with information concerning the collision or who may have dashcam footage to contact them.