Zach Heuple, or as he was better known around Miami, Harry Potter, was the type of kid who could light up a room. The lopsided scar he drew on his face in Sharpie one Halloween became a running joke that stuck. He was always happy, always smiling and always ready to crack a joke.
Zach, 20, was from the town of Vienna in Northern Virginia. He graduated from McLean High School in 2015 and was a junior at Miami, working toward completing a finance major and history minor.
He and John Carroll University student Gary Spice, 19, passed away on Sept. 26 from a vehicular accident in Ibiza, Spain following a weekend trip, while enrolled in the MUDEC study abroad program based in Differdange, Luxembourg.
Zach was also very close with his younger brother Colton, a senior in high school, and his parents, Mike and Laurie.
“Zach’s favorite quote was ‘Great moments are born from great opportunities,’ from the movie Miracle on Ice,” Laurie said. “Miami gave him great moments that he turned into wonderful opportunities.”
He was heavily involved in his fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi, where he was the risk manager last semester and frequently played intramural hockey with his fraternity brothers.
Zach was a hockey fanatic.
“He was always at the skating rink,” sophomore Ariana Smith said. “He loved Miami hockey, and he took me to my first game freshman year.”
A Washington Capitals super fan, Zach also played hockey whole life and was a forward on his club team, The Highlanders for the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League back home.
“You can’t have a team without a glue guy,” Zach’s former coach John Sherlock said. “And Zach was my glue guy, he held the team together and was relentlessly enthusiastic, relentlessly positive.”
John, who has since retired, fondly recalled a time during a playoff game from Zach’s sophomore year of high school when the team was down.
“Zach just got us fired up,” John said. “He kept shouting ‘Just one more,’ he was a real competitor, we ultimately ended up winning that game.”
Ariana grew up in the same neighborhood as Zach back home in Vienna, and they attended rival high schools.
“I only knew one person coming into Miami from home and that was Zach,” Ariana said. “He was so friendly, so kind and just really, really loved this school.”
Ariana, an architecture student, remembers last year when she had an open house for one of her classes on her birthday and her own parents couldn’t make it, but Zach came to save the day.
“He and his girlfriend [junior, Mary Burton] were ‘my parents’ for night,” Ariana said. “We had this sparkly pink birthday cake and then Zach and Mary took me out to celebrate my birthday.”
It was Mary who suggested that Zach go as Harry Potter for Halloween and they ended up attending a party as Harry and Hermione. Best friends in costume and in life.
“Everyone always thought they were going to be Miami mergers,” Ariana said. “They were just always together.”
At school, Zach was also actively involved in Miami’s credit union and held the position of financial consultant in the club.
“Zach was a valued member of First Miami and a close friend to all of our credit union family,” senior and CEO of First Miami Student Federal Credit Union Patrick O’Malley said. “He was a thoughtful and kind leader within our organization and always strove to do best by our members and interns. His loss will be deeply felt and he will be missed.”
During his brief time at in Luxembourg this semester Zach made several friends, who described him as happy and confident kid determined to make the most of experience while studying abroad.
“I did not know Zach before going to MUDEC,” junior Jo Ondash said. “But within just the few weeks I have known him, he seemed so happy. He was always laughing and living life to the fullest. He touched so many lives both back at home and here at MUDEC. He will be missed dearly by so many, but never forgotten.”
MUDEC is planning on holding a memorial service for both Zach and Gary on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Additionally, classes stopped for a moment of silence at 10:40 a.m. in Luxembourg.
Ariana can’t imagine a time when the shock will wear off.
“Every time I knocked on the door to his room he’d open no matter what,” Ariana said. “I’m going to miss that.”
Zach’s service will be held in Vienna, VA on Saturday, Oct. 7 at Vienna Presbyterian Church at 10 a.m.
This story was updated 10/2/17 at 7:19 p.m.