OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Police claimed Brian Housley was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
But according to his mother, maybe his mission in life was just beginning.
Two years ago, Housley was shot during a drive-by shooting. Ogden police determined the 28-year-old was an innocent bystander.
Darcie Housley will never forget that early hour phone call from police.
“The officer told us that he had been in an accident,” Housley said.
But it was much worse. At the hospital, they learned her son was shot in the head while repairing a car.
“The officer we met there at the hospital said ‘I am so sorry,” said Housley. “(The officer said) ‘we believe he was not targeted. We don’t think he had any involvement.'”
He died, but when Housley turned 16 years old and applied for his driver’s license, his mother said he checked off the box that made him an organ donor.
“They had found out he was an organ donor and kept him on life support,” said Housley. “It was a hard thing but we knew we needed to let him go and do what he was supposed to do and that was to donate those organs for somebody else’s life.”
At a Salt Lake hospital, longtime high school football coach and former University of Utah football quarterback Ray Groth waited. He had been confined for several weeks because of a bad heart.
Groth had amyloidosis which is a rare genetic disease. His liver was creating a substance that produced plague which went into his heart. Without a heart transplant, Groth would surely die.
“After a while, if I didn’t do anything then the heart muscle would give out,” Groth said.
Despite his poor heart and age, Groth was viewed as a candidate for a heart transplant because of his fitness.
On December 1, 2017, Groth got the news he had been waiting months for.
“This doctor, a fella that came in, a good guy says ‘I think we got a heart,'” Groth said.
It belonged to Housley. After a difficult but successful recovery, Groth wanted to know more about where his heart came from.
A non-profit group called Donor Connect Utah brought Groth and the Housleys together.
“I sent them my condolences,” he recalled. “It’s really kind of hard to get, I’m sorry. It hurts when I think about it. But their loss was ultimately my gain.”
Housley’s heart was beating inside of Groth. One day at the doctor’s office he recorded the sound of the heartbeat. His wife gave the audio recording to the Housleys.
Darcie Housley placed the sound of the heartbeat in the heart of a stuffed animal. She called the toy dog “Brian.”
“It was amazing,” she said. “It just touched me that they would even think to do that.”
Where ever he goes, Groth never forgets his new companion.
“I get out riding my bike and I would be having a great time riding my bike and I stop and think about Brian, his contributions to my life,” said Groth.
In fact, on Housley’s headstone is a medal the two of them recently won.
Two years have passed since that terrible November morning. Housley is angry for the person who destroyed their lives and has yet to be caught.
“He needs to be arrested and brought to justice,” Housley said. “I don’t want another family to go through what we are going through.
But she said “Brian” the stuffed animal has brought comfort to her life.
“He’s gone, yet I can hear his heartbeat anytime I want,” she said.
Housley’s murder remains unsolved. Ogden police called it an active cold case. They choose not to offer any details of the case out of concern it would hurt their investigation.
Anyone with information about the drive-by shooting is urged to contact Ogden police at (801) 395-8221 or (801) 629-8228.