Hours after giving birth to a baby boy last week, a Michigan woman learned that her fiancé and her mother had been killed earlier the same day in a single-vehicle crash.
The victims were on their way to see the newborn and mom when the fatal collision occurred on a two-lane road in Kalamazoo.
Authorities said the crash happened around 4:00 p.m. Saturday along South 26th Street near Cork Street. The vehicle was driving north when the driver lost control before veering into a tree, police said.
“Those were two big people in my life, and to have them both gone at the same time is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Crystal Matrau-Belt.
Matrau-Belt was scheduled to have a cesarean section Saturday evening, and she called her fiancé to tell him the news.
“He said he’d be up there and that he loved me and that he was on his way,” she said.
But Emil Skokan III, 34, and Matrau-Belt’s mother, Peggy Nichols, 53, never made it to the hospital.
Nearly four hours after giving birth, Matrau-Belt’s family gathered around her hospital bed and broke the tragic news.
“I just started screaming and yelling, saying no that’s not true. I was just getting out of surgery, I was trying to jump out of bed and they were holding me down I was freaking out so bad,” she said. “With my mom, you couldn’t find a more caring person in the world, she literally helped anyone and everyone.”
Through tragedy, Matrau-Belt said she still has a reason to wake up every morning — her new baby boy. Jeremiah Matrau-Skokan was born Saturday at 8:03 p.m.
“He is just the perfect little boy, I swear, I could not ask for a better son,” Matrau-Belt said. “Everything reminds me of (Skokan).”
Matrau-Belt said the boy has the eyes of his father, whom he unfortunately will never get to meet.
“I thank Emil for this blessing. Even though he’s not here to be able to share it, he gave me my greatest blessing,” she said. “To not have him here, I just feel really empty.”
“I couldn’t do it without my son and it’s hard sometimes to look at him and see Emil, but it overcomes the hard because I’m so grateful I have a piece of him for the rest of my life, I’ll have him with me,” Matrau-Belt said.
It’s unclear what caused Skokan to veer off the road. Police said they believed speed was a factor.
Memorial services have been set up for Skokan and Nichols.
Skokan was the family’s only source of income, leaving the unemployed Matrau-Belt with little money. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise money for Matrau-Belt and her son.