Juggling Act: Parents of two sisters who died in I-75 accident: 'Hug your loved ones.'
It's been less than a week since Mike Polzin's world has been changed forever and he's worried about everyone else.
Polzin, his wife, Lori, and at least three of their four daughters were driving up north in separate cars for a family vacation on Father's Day when a vehicle crossed the median on I-75 in Otsego County and struck daughters' Kaele and Sara's car, killing them. Kaele was 22 and Sara was 16.
Mike and Lori, both from Richmond, have reached out on social media, thanking so many for supporting them during such an incredibly hard time. But Mike, who saw his daughters' car get hit, urged anyone who may need help in the aftermath to get it.
"This horrible event is very hard to deal with," wrote Mike in a post on an "I Love Armada" Facebook page. "Please help each other to deal with the emotional trauma this has caused. Please get counseling for them and check on them often. This event has been hard enough I can not bare (sic) the thought of another tragedy coming from this."
A GoFundMe set up for the Polzins had already raised nearly $50,000 by Wednesday and a candlelight vigil was held Thursday.
Kaele and Sara should've had the rest of their lives ahead of them. Kaele, 22, was a behavioral technician with Easterseals Michigan, working with children with autism doing Applied Behavioral Analysis in Waterford Township.
"She loved the kids that we served," said Easterseals in a Facebook post. "She will be remembered as a loving, patient, smiley, calm, and beloved member of our team."
Sara, meanwhile, was going into her senior year at Armada High School. She was a member of the band and orchestra and a dancer with JLP's Leap of Faith Dance Studio.
More than 36,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. That's a 2% decrease from 2018, even though vehicle miles traveled increased by nearly 1%.
Lori Polzin, the girls' mom, said a third daughter, Sam, was also in the car with Kaele and Sara. She broke a finger and her collarbone in the accident. She also has a concussion.
"I am thanking God we didn't lose her too," wrote Lori on social media.
Life is a series of before and after moments, some of them incredibly tragic and unfair. And sometimes it's hard to recognize our lives in the aftermath.
I was 36 when my dad died suddenly. He was alive on a Friday when he and my mom came over to babysit my kids while I worked a night shift. The next day, he was gone.
There was no time to say goodbye. But I'm so grateful I got to see him and tell him I love him one last time. I made him the Barefoot Contessa's Pasta Bolognese recipe and even had red wine to go with it before I left for work. He was content.
Lori Polzin calls the accident that took her daughters "a huge unpreventable tragedy." The driver of the car that crossed the median -- state police say the car swerved to avoid an accident -- and hit her daughters' car was air-lifted to Traverse City Munson Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
"A split second took away 2 of my babies," wrote Lori on social media. "Hug your loved ones. We love you. We are hurting. We will let you know what we need when we figure it out. Right now, nothing makes sense."