It's impossible to walk in the shoes of MMA fighter Marcus Kowal and Mishel Eder. When they woke up today they knew they would be saying their good-byes to their son Liam. Though brain-dead from Saturday's accident from a suspected drunk driver he's been on life support. That's in order to protect his organs for donation. This was the day the parents would have doctors pull the plug on Liam's life support machine.
This was a day when they were surrounded by many family members and others. On the 6th floor of Harbor/UCLA Hospital some 30 MMA fighters, law enforcement joined the family to pay their final respects.
He also stepped out for a couple of interviews including mine. "Everyone that's ever met him... he brings a smile," he told me. But, Kowal - understandably - finds it hard to smile. Sunday, the boy was hooked up to a life support machine. "We were hoping to see some kind of sign of life but there wasn't."
The decision was made to unhook him, but then a sudden decision to keep him on it. His son's brain may have been dead, but his organs were fine and could be donated. So now, says Kowal, "Up to 8 to 9 children will live because of Liam and that, to me, is amazing." Also, amazing, is the feeling he's having knowing Liam will save other children's "It is an amazing feeling and, as tough as this is... I want to make sure that Liam's death wasn't in vain."
The conversation turned to the accident that ended Liam's life and Donna Marie Higgins who was booked on suspicion of drunk driving and felony hit and run. She bailed out and is free, but, according to police, she may be hit with involuntary manslaughter charges because of the baby's death. Hawthorne Police say that will be discussed Wednesday with the DA.
Kowal's feelings about Higgins? "She's 72. She's had her life. She's had the chance to make her decisions. She took that away from us and he never got a chance to make a single decision. I don't want her to get behind the wheel of a car again, but I really don't feel anything towards her."
But, it's hard to get the horror of the accident out of his mind. He recalls running outside the gym after hearing sirens. He says he had a bad feeling. "I ran out into the street. I saw the stroller lying in the street and then I felt rage... like a wild animal."
In an effort to turn a terrible negative into something very positive Kowal hopes to create a non-profit foundation. That might be to raise awareness about DUI accidents or help victims of such wrecks. His biggest hope is to convince people not to drink and drive. He says, "If I can stop one person from getting behind the wheel and that would save one life... then the mission that we're going to be on is helping."
For Marcus Kowal and Mishel Eder it was a very difficult day. Kowal texted me at 8:19pm with the word "done."
He says Liam had a real "positivity" that he now wants to carry on.
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