Four in Family Killed in SUV Rollover – Baby Survives DeKalb Crash

Dominic Adams | The Journal Gazette

It was a small gesture that meant the world to grieving family and friends more than 150 miles away. A webcam set up by officials at Parkview Hospital allowed father Chris Craft to watch his 8-month-old son, William, online all night from Howell, Mich.

Little William was the lone survivor after the sport utility vehicle he was riding in plunged down a bridge embankment near Waterloo and rolled into the path of a train. The boy’s grandmother, Barbara Pierson, 45, was driving and was killed along with her three daughters: twins Bessie and Margaret, 19, and Elizabeth, 14.

The family was on its way back to Howell, Mich., after visiting family near Chicago, according to a family representative. DeKalb County Sheriff Don Lauer said he doesn’t know why the SUV Pierson was driving left the road while heading north on Interstate 69 near mile marker 134.

Lauer said the vehicle entered the median and plunged down the embankment at about 5 p.m. The Kia SUV rolled onto its top and came to a rest on the railroad tracks. Seconds later, an eastbound train hit the SUV and pushed it about 2,000 feet, where it came to a stop a bit west of the County Road 31 railroad crossing, Lauer said.

One of the daughters was ejected from the vehicle, while three others and the infant were trapped in the SUV. All except the baby boy died at the scene. He was transported to Parkview in Fort Wayne by helicopter.

“They were all very kind, loving,” family friend Lori Roberts said of Pierson and her three daughters. “You never heard them say a mean word about anyone.” Husband and father Ted Pierson was in Oklahoma at the time of the crash and received the tragic news by telephone.

The baby was moved from intensive care to the pediatric unit at Parkview on Monday, Lauer said. “We stayed up all night and we were able to see every move and it was really comforting,” Roberts said. The infant has a fractured femur, along with a few scrapes and bruises. “We’ve seen pictures from the scene and it truly is a miracle that the baby survived,” Roberts said. “He looks wonderful.”

Friends and family were not able to drive to Indiana after the crash because of financial hardship.

Barbara Pierson worked as a cook at a retirement community in Howell, along with her daughter, William’s mother, Margaret Pierson.

Bessie Pierson was studying nursing at Wayne State University and worked two jobs to support herself.

Eighth-grader Elizabeth Pierson was very active with the Salvation Army. “She just wanted to help people,” Roberts said of the girl. “She was very funny and caring.”

The family did not have life insurance, and remaining family and friends don’t know how they’ll be able to pay for four funerals. Two Michigan banks are offering memorial funds to help pay for funerals and expenses.

Call a Rollover Lawyer to Discuss Your Rollover Lawsuit Legal Options

If you or a loved one have been severely injured or killed in a rollover accident involving an SUV, truck or van, you and your family may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. The Willis Law Firm has the expertise you need to get the money and justice that you deserve. To discuss your case with our law firm and to learn more about how we may be able to fight for you, please Contact a Rollover Lawyer or call The Willis Law Firm today at 1-877-788-7655. You are not alone.