Father: Organ donation helps ease pain of death

Montcalm County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A family returning from church Sunday afternoon was only a mile from home when their car was hit first from behind and then head-on.

The crash killed 9-month-old Annalee Baker and her aunt, 18-year-old Samantha Baker.

“She was almost home, they were going to do their normal stuff, fix dinner, and now we got figure out two funerals,” William Baker, Samantha’s father and Anna’s grandfather, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

His wife Michelle Baker was driving home from Grace Community Church with her daughter and granddaughter in the back seat when the crash happened in rural Montcalm County.  

“Every one of them always wears seat belts,” William Baker said. “She was waiting to make a lefthand turn. She looked in the rear-view mirror and he just slammed into her.”

The crash pushed the Baker’s car into the path of another pickup truck.

“What I was told by my brother, who was three cars back, he was surprised that anybody was still there,” William Baker said.

Anna, who was in a car seat, died on impact.

“She was my little baby. She was always sitting in my lap,” Baker said of his granddaughter. “She was really loved.”

Samantha Baker died the day after the crash at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

She had graduated from Lakeview High School in June. She was planning to be a veterinarian and to become engaged to her longtime boyfriend this year.

“She loves to argue and stuff, but lots of time she was always happy,” William Baker recalled his daughter. “Loves life, loves to do stuff with everybody, loves her friends.”

She continues to give, something he knows she would have wanted.

“They found a recipient for her heart, they found a possible recipient for her lungs, so we might be going through hard time but other people can live,” Baker said. 

Anna’s heart valve went to another baby Monday.

“We love the fact that pieces of her are going to live in others and it’s going to make their life better and they’re going to be able to survive because of her,” Baker said. “If another child or someone can live and grow and get old, have a family, all because (Samantha) donated her heart or lungs or kidneys, whatever, then that’s awesome. It’s just the way she is.”

Michigan State Police say they are still investigating the crash and have not yet specified the cause.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

You can learn how to become an organ donor at the Michigan Secretary of State website.

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