WELLINGTON – A former New York City assistant district attorney and philanthropist died after falling in a Florida horse jumping competition.
Anne Heyman, 52, died in Wellington, Fla., on Friday after a fall at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center at about 10:30 a.m. She was flown to Delray Medical Center, where she died three hours later, the Palm Beach Post reported (http://bit.ly/1dgFqPb ).
Heyman was born in South Africa and attended the George Washington School of Law. She went on to work for the Manhattan district attorney’s office and later led the creation of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a community for children orphaned during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
“Each of us grieves not only for the passing of a tremendous woman and a true visionary, but also for the loss suffered by her family,” the organization said in an announcement posted on its website. “She has made a remarkable impact on this world and we will continue to work to uphold her legacy.”
Rwandan officials also mourned her loss.
“Deeply saddened by sudden passing of Anne Heyman,” wrote Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo in a message on Twitter. “I know she lives on in many vibrant Rwandan girls she worked hard for.”
Heyman and her husband, Seth Merrin, were inspired to help Rwandan orphans after hearing about their struggles at a talk about the genocide in 2005.
Heyman was reminded of the residential living communities built in Israel for orphans of the Holocaust and wanted to bring a similar model to Rwanda, according to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village’s website. An international Jewish humanitarian organization and corporate partner Liquidnet Holdings agreed to support the project.
The first 125 students moved in to the village in 2008. The organization is now home to 500 children.
In a bio on the organization’s website, Heyman is described as “an avid equestrian and competition show jumper” who lived in Manhattan with her husband and three children.
She fell Friday during a master’s jumper competition, FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival spokeswoman Jennifer Wood told the Palm Beach Post.
Deputies said Saturday Heyman became dislodged from the horse after a jump and began leaning to the left side. The horse began to pick up speed and Heyman fell off.
Witnesses told investigators Heyman struck the back of her head.
She died from cardiac arrest while undergoing emergency surgery.
Funeral details are expected to be shared in the coming days.