A community is uniting in grief and celebration after a father dies while driving his pregnant wife to the hospital for the birth of their eighth child.
As new life comes into the world, death is often out of sight, at least that is how it seemed for Mike Rogan, 46 and his wife Niki and their seven children when they told their cousin Cody Nikolai and his wife Jade that they were going to have a baby.
"Niki had texted Jade saying that she was going into labor and they were heading up to the hospital," said Cody.
Unfortunately for the family of soon to be ten, death was just around the corner.
"She got a grumbled texted about there was an accident and it was bad," said Cody.
"I didn't understand what she was talking about," added Jade, tearing up. "'I'm like what's bad?' And they were all in the ER and I called her and..." "She told us what had happened," finished Cody.
On Friday, the Rogans were en route from their Wausau home to a hospital in Marshfield when the car ahead of them hit a deer just outside of Stratford. The deer flew over the top of the car and hit the Rogan's van, crashing into the windshield where Mike was sitting, ending his life.
"Fortunately there was a big blessing that came out of it, Blaise Killian was born at 4 o'clock or so in the afternoon. Born healthy and beautiful and everything was good," said Cody.
The rest of the family made it out okay, with only a few cuts and bruises, but now, the family must cope with a new real they never expected.
"To lose your husband in the morning, to have to go through labor and right before labor tell your children what happened, and I was by her side the entire time during labor and she did so fantastic," said Jade.
Circumstances like this would cause some families to curse God, however the Rogans instead decided to find strength within the church, even going to mass and having little Blaise baptized the following Sunday, despite having the baby on Friday.
"I don't think she's missed a mass because of a child birth. That's what she said," said Jade. "She wanted to go and she said it would be hard for her to be there and talk to everyone, but she said well I have to do it and I feel the love from everyone and this is my family, this isn't just a church family, this is my family."
"They've always lived their faith as a family," said fellow church member and friend, Dominic Gruetzmacher. He said Niki told him and his wife Cecilia, she wanted to give her children some normalcy. The Gruetzmachers have known the Rogans for more than 12 years. The family's tragedy and faith inspired the two to set up a GoFundMe Page that has raised more than $200,000. They said they have received donations from all over the country and world, even siting one giver from India.
"That juxtaposition of life and death all happening in one day, within hours of each other. Just to have one of those things happen is so profound, but to have them both happen so closely together, I think people are really stricken by that," said Cecilia.
"She (Niki) said 'I know everything is going to be okay. I knew it was going to be okay. We're going to be okay and it's going to be hard, but we'll be good,'" said Jade.
Mike was a veteran of the Marine Corp. and worked with the U.S. Postal Service. The Nikolais told NewsChannel 7 Mike, not long ago, had taken over his father-in-law's organic farm supply business after he suddenly passed away. Niki is a stay-at-home mom and home-schools her children. The Gruetzmachers said they are trying to help the family as these difficult future decisions are being made. A small business owner has even donated a new van to the family.
If you want to donate, you can follow the link to the GoFundMe Page or email email@example.com for more information.