Iowa State student Thomas John "TJ" Houdek, senior in dairy science, was reported dead Sunday evening after his 2004 Harley Davidson collided with a semi-truck while crossing Highway 18 from Quarry Road onto Highway 218 northbound in Floyd County.
Houdek was pronounced dead at the scene, according to KIMT, a local Iowa, Minnesota news source.
44-year-old Joshua Brood was the driver of the semi and was airlifted by Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa. According to KIMT, Brood has been treated and released as of Monday afternoon.
Houdek, according to his obituary, was a member of Ducks Unlimited, the president of Iowa State's Ducks Unlimited Student Chapter and a member of the Iowa State Dairy Science Club. Houdek worked at Tori's in Charles City, Es Tas Bar and Grill in Ames and at Outlaws in Ames as a bartender.
Houdek, 23, of Charles City, was a semester away from earning his degree in dairy science at Iowa State. He previously attended school in NIACC in Mason City and received a degree in criminal justice.
A GoFundMe page was set up in Houdek's honor, where a goal of $6,000 was set to help Houdek's family with expenses.
As of Tuesday evening, $5,730 was raised by 127 people over the course of one day.
"Words cannot express how amazing of a person TJ was," the GoFundMe page read. "It didn't matter how long or how well he knew you, if you needed help he was there for you. Now it is our turn to return the favor."
Sam Bernard, former president of the Iowa State Ducks Unlimited Chapter, said that Houdek was one of the most genuine guys out there.
"He poured his heart and soul into the chapter and everybody that knew him," Bernard said. "[He was] without a doubt one of the funniest, wittiest guys I've ever met.
"He's one of a kind, there's no doubt about that."
Many are mourning the loss of Houdek through social media, where a memorial page was created in his honor.
Matt Marco, sophomore in agronomy, first met Houdek after joining the Ducks Unlimited Club.
Marco said that Houdek was always the life of the show and that he tried to learn as much as he could from him, specifically concerning hunting.
"He was always the leader. He knew what needed to get done, always calm and collected," Marco said.
In hearing of Houdek's passing, Marco said he couldn't and didn't want to believe it at first. Marco said he still has not grasped Houdek's passing fully, and needs to get out of the mindset that Houdek could text him at any time.
In remembering Houdek, Marco said that he and Houdek would sometimes reenact scenes from the movie "Forrest Gump" while they were hunting. Houdek would pretend to be Lt. Dan, and Marco would pretend to be Forrest.
"He will certainly be missed," Marco said, commenting that Houdek was always the guy he could turn to.
Marco said that during Houdek's time as president, he pushed to make the Ducks Unlimited Club more social and was really good at getting people together.
"He really wanted to make it more social, make everybody get together, [and] wanted a big family. He did really well in that aspect," Marco said. "He was just kind of that guy – he was there for you."
Jared Vandewall, president of the Budweiser Bowling League at Perfect Games, which Houdek was a part of, said that Houdek was a just a fun person to be around, had a positive attitude and did everything he could to make the lives of the people around him better.
What Vandewall said he remembered about Houdek was that they were able to get on a motorcycle and ride in the same lane together, side-by-side, because they trusted each other so much.
Vandewall and Houdek also worked together at the Harley Davidson shop in Ames, and Vandewall said that Houdek had always wanted a Harley motorcycle.
"He passed away doing something he loved," Vandewall said.
A memorial service for Houdek will be held 11:00 a.m. Friday, July 22 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Charles City. Inurnment will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Oak Hill Cemetery in Nashua.
A gathering of family and friends of Houdek's will be held at Hauser Funeral Home on Thursday, July 21, 2016 from 4 to 7 p.m. and will continue one hour prior to the memorial service at the church Friday.