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Lake Elsinore girl killed by drunk driver to be honored at Rose Parade

December 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Five years ago this month, Sierra Heidrich's life was taken by a drunken driver.

The Lake Elsinore girl will be honored in this year's Rose Parade themed "Imagine" with a floral portrait on the Donate Life float.

"She was an old soul and she loved everyone no matter if you were nice to her or not," said Amber Heidrich, Sierra's aunt. "She just liked to make friends and she was just a happy and spirited girl."

Heidrich was in the process of adopting 5-year-old Sierra when the two were hit head on by a woman with four previous DUIs.

Sierra was declared brain dead 11 days later and taken off life support.

But in her death, Sierra helped save the lives of two strangers four days before Christmas.

"She gave one kidney, I believe, to a 53 year old and the other to a 36 year old," Heidrich said.

Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Chris Bouffard prosecuted the case, which landed the drunk driver behind bars for 25 years to life.

Since then, he has remained in close contact with Sierra's family.

At their request, Bouffard was asked to help place the finishing touches on Sierra's floragraph.

"In the Heidrich family I saw great courage and determination. Not to just let Sierra's death be a tragedy, but to make it a positive force for good in the community," Bouffard said.

Sierra's floragraph will be one of 72 that will decorate the Donate Life float representing the theme, "One More Day."

It's something many families with lost loved ones can only imagine.

"I think the biggest thing would be to tell her I love her and just to soak up every moment I could," Heidrich said.

Heidrich wrote a dedication to Sierra to be placed on the float in her memory.

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