Father, grandmother die in crash on way to baby’s birth

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Having a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life.

For Crystal Matrau-Belt, it was also a day that she will never forget for a different reason.

On Saturday, her doctors decided to perform a C-section, so she called her fiance and future mother-in-law, who were preparing for the baby’s arrival at home.

“That was our plan, is he was going to just stay at home, get things ready, because we didn’t know it would be right then and there,” she told WOOD-TV.

Her fiance, Emil Skokan III, told her “that he loved me and that he’d be here shortly.”

Tragically, he would never arrive at the hospital.

Authorities say he lost control of his car and hit a tree.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas says Skokan and his mother, Peggy Nichols, died four hours before the baby’s birth.

Investigators say speed was a “significant factor” in the crash.

Crystal Matrau-Belt says she was recovering from the C-section when she got the news.

“I just remember all their faces, and I knew something was wrong,” she said. “I just didn’t know how bad it was, and that’s when I was told that they both died in a car accident on their way over here.”

As she prepares to leave the hospital with baby Jeremiah, she is torn.

“It’s a hard balance…being so happy and excited to be a mother and holding him and grieving that his dad’s not here, his grandma’s not here, just having to battle back and forth grieving for both of them and trying to be happy and excited for him,” she said.

She wants Jeremiah to remember his grandmother as a woman who would have done anything for him and his father as a man who couldn’t wait to raise him.