Grandfather to hit-and-run driver: ‘You have changed our lives forever’

Police investigate the scene of a fatal hit-and-run crash on Sept. 15, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A suspect in a fatal hit-and-run crash is in custody while two 5-year-old boys are recovering from critical injuries and facing a long road to recovery without their mother who died in a crash Friday night.

Tony Anthony Sr. is the grandfather of twin boys Chauncey and Tony Anthony III, the boy the family calls Tre. On Sunday, the boys were listed in critical but stable condition, hospital staff said.

Anthony Sr. said Saturday they are surrounded by family praying that the swelling of their brains does not get worse and dreading having to tell them what happened.

Meranda Baguss, 33, of Sand Lake was on her way to meet her the father of the boys in Byron Township.

Instead, around 8:23 p.m. Friday at the intersection of 15 Mile Road and Ritchie Avenue in Courtland Township, Baguss’ westbound vehicle was struck by a pickup truck traveling north on Ritchie.

Baguss died on scene, and her 5-year-old boys, who were in car seats, were taken to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with life-threatening head injuries.

“She’s a beautiful young lady, she was sweet and she loved her babies,” Anthony said while standing watch over the boys at the hospital. “They meant the world to her and now we have to decide how to tell them that their mother has been taken away from them.”

The family is at the hospital, including the Grand Rapids grandparents who gave the boys a haircut before they started kindergarten at Cedar Trails Elementary, they will turn 6 in October.

“They’re beautiful,” Anthony said of the boys. ”They are great. They are funny, they are rambunctious, they are busy — very busy, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

Deputies said the driver of the pickup truck ran away from the scene of the crime leaving the totaled truck behind. Investigators said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

“For someone to just do what he did and then leave, just discard them like waste, is horrible,” Anthony said. “It’s unspeakable.”

Acting on a tip, Kent County authorities took an unidentified suspect into custody.

Anthony has this to say to the suspect: “You took a life, you’re still here. You’re gonna get up tomorrow morning. Meranda’s not going to. You have changed our lives forever.”

Baguss was a certified nursing assistant for Spectrum Health.

“That’s what she did,” Anthony said. “She took care of others and she took care of her own.  She was great.”

Cedar Springs Superintendent Laura VanDuyn said the district is working to support the family and that counsellors will be available.

While there is a suspect in custody, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department is still wanting to talk to anyone with information by contacting the department at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.