SEBEWAING, MI — A Michigan woman was killed in a car crash and her partner died just an hour later after hearing the news.
The couple leaves behind a huge family who is trying to cope with the sudden tragedy of losing them both.
“They had a lot of love for each other,” said Rick Niemi, the couple’s son. “Everybody just knew them as Barb and Ron. Everybody knew they were together. You didn’t really see one without the other.”
Barbara Butler and Ron Niemi were lifelong companions. They had nine kids, 25 grandchildren and more than 35 years of love.
“They were the kind of people that would leave a mark on anybody they ever met,” Rick Niemi said.
Last Tuesday, Butler crashed her car at the intersection of Bay Port and Camboro Road in Huron County. That crash cost Butler her life and broke the hearts of her family.
“It just feels like it’s not real yet,” Rick Niemi said.
He is the middle child. He took a call from his dad the night his mom died.
“He told me about my mom. His last words on the phone were, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do.’ I said, ‘I love you dad. I’m gonna be there soon,’” Rick Niemi said.
An hour later, his sister gave him another call.
“I said, ‘Jesse I know. I know about mom. I’m on my way.’ And she said, ‘No, it’s dad. He just collapsed. The ambulance just took him.’ That was, in my head, this is unbelievable,” Rick Niemi said.
Ron Niemi didn’t make it. His last words were, “I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.”
“It’s not been easy. Nothing about this has been easy, but I think my mom and dad are very proud right now with the way that we’re handling things,” Rick Niemi said.
The nine children left behind want to share a message with their parents.
“Mom, dad, if you’re listening, know that we love you. We always love you. We’re never gonna forget you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us,” Rick Niemi said.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help with funeral costs.