December 31, 2013

After thief steals wedding ring from dying woman, husband speaks out

Kris Zimmerman is still in shock that he lost his wife, Danielle, to a fatal brain aneurysm earlier this week.

Kris Zimmerman is still in shock that he lost his wife, Danielle, to a fatal brain aneurysm earlier this week.

They had been married 21 years and had two sons; she was only 43.

But “what hurt the most,” Zimmerman said Tuesday, is that as she lay unconscious after suffering the aneurysm at a Taco Bell drive-through on East Harry on Sunday night, someone stole not just the purse beside her and her iPhone.

“What really appalled me — the wedding ring. How could you take somebody’s wedding ring off their finger?” he asked.

“Instead of trying to help her, somebody robbed her.”

Wichita police officials said Tuesday that they still have no suspects in the theft.

“We just don’t have a lot of leads right now,” police Capt. Brent Allred said.

He asked that anyone with information about the stolen property call Crime Stoppers, at 316-267-2111, or 911.

Police have recovered his wife’s purse, including photos of her 13- and 18-year-old sons, after some kids found it while sledding off of Harry, Zimmerman said. The thief or thieves took $150 in cash, some of her credit cards and her iPhone.

A little before 8 on Sunday night, people quickly gathered around the silver 2008 Nissan Frontier pickup that Danielle Zimmerman had driven to the Taco Bell at 3725 E. Harry, across from Via Christi St. Joseph. Apparently, the thief had a short time to steal the items before emergency crews arrived, Allred said.

Kris Zimmerman said he had heard that about nine people gathered around his wife after the pickup struck the speaker box and came to a stop in the drive-through. She was unconscious, and he heard that a hospital worker from the across the street was actively trying to help her.

With all those people there, he said, someone should have seen the theft. Someone, he said, needs to “stand up and do the right thing.”

Sunday night started out to be such a harmless night. Kris Zimmerman, a 47-year-old engineer at Beechcraft, was watching football, and his 13-year-old son had a friend over to spend the night. Danielle Zimmerman went to Taco Bell to get dinner for everyone.

When she had been gone 30 minutes, her husband tried her phone, but his call went straight to her voice mail. He waited 15 more minutes, without an answer, and decided to go looking for her. As he was backing out of their driveway, police pulled up and told him his wife had passed out and had been taken to a hospital.

She had been on Social Security disability for rheumatoid arthritis, but she had never suffered a brain aneurysm before, he said. At the hospital, a chaplain came out and told him that she had suffered a serious aneurysm, that she had a lot of blood in her brain.

She died Monday, and her body was being prepared for organ donation.

“I knew that she wanted that,” Kris Zimmerman said. “Through this tragedy, maybe she can help save somebody else’s life.”

That she would die of an aneurysm, at 43, is still “just a total shock,” he said. It was “just a fluke of nature,” he was told.

At the hospital, he learned that all of his wife’s things – the wedding ring, purse and phone – were missing.

Asked to describe Danielle, he said: “She was easy-going, fun. We never got in fights. I mean, she was my best friend.

“We could finish each other’s thought. We were just the perfect match really. And she was a great mother and great wife.”

One of her favorite sayings was, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but the moments that take our breath away.” She had it on a plaque in their house.

He decided that the quote should go in her obituary.

Still, it’s painful to him that when she needed help the most, somebody took from her.

He hopes something good could come from it.

“Out of all of this,” he said, “maybe it will make somebody a little bit more compassionate.”

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