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Several communities come together to help Grass Lake woman who faced multiple tragedies

Posted at 9:54 AM, Jul 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-03 09:54:43-04

LANSING, Mich. — Patty Kerton says 2022 was the worst year of her life.

"I lost my three oldest biological children in the order of which they were born," Kerton said.

Her friends and the communities that continue to help her, agree.

Kerton owns Patty’s by the Lake, a small restaurant on the outskirts of Grass Lake near Munith, Stockbridge and Chelsea.

Neighbors refer to it as God’s country.

"She is like a little pillar out here," says frequent customer Tasha Lynn. "She is in the middle of four communities. It’s a little meeting spot, and she is always there helping everyone else.”

The same communities Kerton serves at her restaurant are uniting to help her.

Kerton’s heartbreak began in February 2022 when she received a call from her oldest daughter’s fiance.

He told Kerton that her daughter, Debra, wasn’t breathing, and paramedics were fighting to save her life.

Kerton says, at the time, Debra was just four weeks from delivering her baby.

“They could not revive my daughter. By the time they got to the hospital, the baby had been without air oxygen for 36 minutes, and she passed too. She was 36 weeks pregnant," Kerton said.

Kerton says she fell into a deep depression.

Then, in October of the same year, she received another call.

“I got a phone call at one o'clock in the morning from my daughter. My son had been shot eight times in Battle Creek," Kerton said.

Her son William was killed in a suspected robbery outside his home.

Kerton says she was beyond devastated.

Then, less than two months later, she received another call, this time from her daughter Tara.

“Tara was calling me at 5:30 in the morning just screaming in the phone that Zariah was dead," Kerton said.

Zariah Jackson, Tara’s 15-month-old daughter and Patty’s granddaughter, was found dead.

An investigation soon led to the arrest of Donald Flack, who was babysitting Zariah.

Flack faces a charge of open murder.

This past January, a month after Zariah’s funeral, Patty received another message via her phone. This time from an app she shares with her family allowing her to know their exact location.

She asked the app to locate her daughter Tara who was supposed to meet with Kerton but was late.

"I just knew that it was her. And I ran out of here. I jumped in my car and drove right to the accident, and it was her car. And I drove around all the barricades, and I just remember that I was just screaming, just screaming. That it couldn't be true. It just couldn't be. You know what, it was! And I just keep asking 'why, why us? Why? No, I don't understand,'" Kerton said.

She lost three children and two grandchildren within a year, and then, more tragedy.

“My husband and I were in Jackson, and my aorta split five inches. I was life-flighted from Jackson to the U of M. I was in intensive care and in a coma for six days. They said that I was very lucky that only 9% of people survive," Kerton said.

Kerton says some days she feels like it’s all been a nightmare, and she will wake up, and everything will be normal again.

In the meantime, the surrounding community continues to help and offer her support.

“This is the third time that we've been here with a donation," says Kele Joki. "And we keep coming back, and I don't think that today is the end of our story to helping Patty. I believe that the community is going to full force keep helping.”

If you would like to help Patty Kerton, visit this GoFundMe link.
We want to thank the supporters who continue to step forward to help Patty Kerton. You are this week’s Good Neighbors.

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Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman

9:44 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Good Neighbors Host

Bob Hoffman

Good Neighbors
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