Mom welcomes triplets after losing two previous children
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Pender County woman is celebrating the birth of triplets three years after her daughter was killed in a car accident and seven years after another baby was stillborn.
At a little over a year old in March 2019, Cora Kruger went to the beach with her grandmother, Cathy Hagelstein.
“She was so excited,” said Hagelstein, remembering the Friday morning. “We went to the coffee shop and she saw everybody. She had just gotten new jelly shoes, so she was showing everybody.”
That excitement quickly turned to tragedy when the pair went to walk across a busy street. At the intersection of South Lake Park Boulevard and Cape Fear Boulevard in Carolina Beach, the two waited until the crosswalk told them it was safe to step off the curb. Then, they were on their way to start their beach day.
“I looked at Cora, and she looked up and was just pure happy,” said Hagelstein. “Then, all of a sudden, I felt pain.”
Both were rushed to the hospital. Hagelstein suffered severe bone bruises across most of her body, an injured back and a shattered heel. Little Cora, on the other hand, didn’t survive.
“All I remember is [hospital staff] saying they were hit by a car and Cora’s head hit the concrete,” said Jennifer Schacht, Cora’s mother. “For the first year after the accident I was just purely in shock and didn’t really register, then one day I just broke down.”
To this day, a memorial remains at the corner where Cora died. It was the support of Schacht’s family, friends, grief groups and the entirety of Carolina Beach that got her through the past three years.
The woman arrested in the accident pled guilty to misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in a conditional discharge guilty plea. After completing the required 12 months of unsupervised probation and 150 hours of community service, a judge dismissed the case.
“I wish they would have done more, honestly,” said Schacht. “I wish she would have spent at least a year in jail.”
After three years of healing, Schact is looking to the future and even offering forgiveness to the woman responsible for her daughter’s death.
“It was an accident and I know it ruined her life, too,” said Schacht. “She’ll never be the same, ever... Once I finally forgave her, it really helped to heal.”
Cora’s death wasn’t in vain. Shortly after the accident, town officials asked for NCDOT’s permission to lower the speed limit along South Lake Park Boulevard. Less than a year after Cora died, the speed limit was dropped to 25 mph.
A recent miracle makes moving on a lot easier, too. At 38 years old, she just welcomed triplets into the world.
“Now, I can move forward a little better because now I actually have something to look forward to again.”
Triplets Amelia, Isabelle and Trenton will be a week old on Tuesday. At less than four pounds each, they’re too small to leave the hospital right now but their parents can’t wait to bring them home.
“[Having] triplets is going to be amazing,” said James Lockerbie, the infants’ father. “I mean, it’s going to be tiring, but I’m already tired.”
Even with the excitement surrounding the triplets’ birth, it’s bittersweet. Cora, who would be 5 today, will never get to be the big sister she was meant to be.
“She probably would have helped with bottle feeding, she would’ve been trying to get them to walk probably earlier than they wanted to,” said Schacht.
Still, Schacht knows she’s smiling down from heaven on her new siblings.
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