REYNOLDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - A man died after getting hit by multiple vehicles as he tried to help his stepdaughter find her runaway dog.
Police and rescue personnel were dispatched around 9:30 p.m. Thursday to the intersection of M-46 and Edgar Road north of Howard City in Montcalm County.
That is where Morris Zerlaut, 63, was trying to cross M-46 after helping his family look for his stepdaughter’s dog, named Rebel.
His stepdaughter, Keri Keeney, told 24 Hour News 8 the family had found the missing dog, and was putting him into a vehicle when the tragedy happened.
"My cousin was kneeling down on the ground, holding his head on the other side of the street," the victim’s wife, Debra, said. "I thought, 'Oh, no. Rebel got hit.' But when I pulled over and I got out, it was my husband laying there in a ball. Just a ball."
Debra clutched her husband's driver’s license Friday as she spoke to 24 Hour News 8, stroking the face of the man who she loved for two decades.
"'Cause it's his face and this is his. This is all I got right now," she said when asked why the license was important to her.
Still in shock, she couldn't quite believe her husband was gone Friday, even though she saw the nightmare unfold before her eyes.
"I started screaming and I started waving cars to stop, and they kept going by me and they kept running him over," Debra said.
A 27-year-old man driving a westbound car originally struck Zerlaut, Michigan State Police said in a press release.
Aero Med transported Zerlaut to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids where he was pronounced dead.
Alcohol is not believed to be a factor, police said.
Zerlaut’s family said they aren’t mad at anyone, just shocked and sad that the Vietnam War veteran is gone.
They said they don't blame the driver who hit Morris; they know it was an accident. They know the driver didn't see the father, husband and grandfather alone on the desolate stretch of road.
"He felt bad," Zerlaut's stepdaughter, Keri Keeney, said of the driver. "He apologized. He was crying. He made me promise I would tell my mom how apologetic he was. He goes, 'I honestly didn't see him. If I would have seen him, I would have been able to stop.'"
The family said help is needed with funeral costs for the unexpected death, saying any amount would be appreciated. A fund has been set up at the Heckman Funeral Home in Howard City in the name of Morris Lane Zerlaut. Besides Debra and Keri, Morris is survived by his adult children, Matthew Zerlaut and Melody Bauer.
Thirty-three-year-old Ronald T. Smith II was grew up in Warren.
Is tonight the night? Maybe it's tomorrow. Or even Sunday.
Two other people, who were inside the residence at the time, escaped safely.