JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Heath Bakken was the driver of the red Chrysler PT Cruiser that witnesses and police say crossed the median and slammed into a transport van. Now, his father is speaking on his behalf.
Paul Bakken says his son Heath suffered from diabetes from age 12 and he believes he went into diabetic shock. Mr. Bakken says his son has suffered a diabetic stroke when driving before, but never had been in an accident. He believes his son's blood sugar dropped and he became incoherent.
Mr. Bakken adds that his son was a very cautious driver. Quoting his son, Mr. Bakken said "You know a lot of people honk at me because I drive slow." He says his son had leg-braces due to an accident he suffered while working, and the braces limited his range of motion. That, plus his diabetic condition, is what Bakken says caused his son to exercise extra caution when behind the wheel.
Quoting his son, Bakken said, "'I've got to be extra careful because,' he says 'I can't react as fast as they can.'"
Mr. Bakken stressed that his son was a good man, "He would do anything for the other victims and the families if he could."
And Bakken also asked Region 8 News to give a very emotional message to the victims and those close to them: "I would like to tell them that myself, my wife Kathy, my son Ryan, [and] my daughter Janna are very sorry for what happened. You have our deepest sympathy and our tremendous condolences for your losses and we hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive Heath."
The official cause of the accident has yet to be announced by Arkansas State Police.
Visitation services for Heath Bakken are scheduled for May 31st from 4 PM to 6 PM at the James O'Donnell Funeral Home Inc. located at 302 South 5th St. in Hannibal, Missouri. Funeral services are June 1st at 1 PM, with Heath being laid to rest at Grand View Cemetery, Hwy. 61 South in Hannibal.