By Jerome Tharaud
A head-on collision claimed the life of a local woman Thursday morning about 13 miles west of Havre.
Heather Michelle Mowen, 25, was driving east on U.S. Highway 2 about 8:40 a.m. when the red Ford Escort she was driving drifted across the center line into the path of a westbound tractor-trailer, Montana Highway Patrol officer Roger Hinckley said this morning.
He said fatigue may have been a factor in the crash.
Mowen died at the scene from injuries suffered in the crash, Hill County deputy coroner Don Brostrum said this morning.
Mowen was coming back to Havre after delivering mail to Chester, said her father, Tom Mowen, who is district manager in the Havre Daily News' circulation department.
Mowen said his daughter had worked for West Wind Courier Service for about a year and drove to Chester five or six days a week, usually twice a day.
She was also a paper carrier for the Havre Daily News for several months.
Family members and friends expressed disbelief at the accident.
"It is very, very, very hard," Mowen said. "We miss her all the time. We can't believe it yet. I wish I could wake up from a dream."
"Very loving daughter. Loved to play ball. Loved her son," Mowen said, referring to her 4-year-old son, Brenden. He described his daughter, nicknamed "Speedy" for her prowess on the cross country course and the track during high school, as bubbly and smiling, but "quiet in her own way."
She played softball nearly all of her life, Mowen said.
"She was playing ball since she was a T-baller," he said, adding that she played softball during summers while growing up and played in a coed league this summer.
Teammate and neighbor Tami Carlson, 32, said she became friends with Heather Mowen when they joined the same softball team four years ago. Their sons are the same age and played together often.
"She and I became really good friends," Carlson said. When Heather came over to pick up her son, Brenden, they would end up visiting for an hour. They sometimes drove to Chinook together to take their sons swimming.
"She was just really nice to be around," Carlson said. "She was a cool person - never got too excited or mad."
"She definitely had a lot of love for her son, that's for sure," Carlson said, recalling how Mowen called her son sure," Carlson said, recalling how Mowen called her son "Boo."
"I just can't believe she's gone," Carlson said.
Tom Mowen said his daughter did a lot of baby-sitting, and someday wanted to have her own business to help kids develop motor skills.
"She really cared for other children," he said.
Heather Mowen was born Aug. 30, 1977, and was raised in Havre. She graduated from Havre High School in 1996. She attended the health and physical education program at Montana State University-Northern for a year and a half, Tom Mowen said.
She has one brother, Corey Mowen, who lives in Rifle, Colo.
Tom Mowen spoke haltingly this morning about what he remembers most about his daughter.
"I miss her smile," he said.