‘I can’t imagine my life without her’ — Holland family mourns teen killed in crash

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HOLLAND, Mich. -- Two families from Ottawa County are struggling to move forward after a fatal car crash a week ago.

Nickie Naber from Hamilton and 22-year-old Jordan Gillespie were both killed when their car hit a tree near West Olive. Sunday would have been Nickie's 18th birthday.

“I can’t imagine my life without her, I really can’t. But I know she’s here. I know she’ll always be here,” said Carrie Naber, Nickie’s mom.

There are signs of Nickie everywhere on the Naber family farm. From her animals -- a dog, a cat and a donkey -- to her projects, like the Chevy she was fixing up. They were all reminders of a happy girl with big dreams.

“We had talked a couple days before Friday. She had told me that she was going to go be a paramedic, and a firefighter and a police officer all at the same time,” Katie Naber, Nickie’s sister, said.

Nickie had just finished EMS courses at Career Line Tech Center and wanted to find a town where police, fire and paramedics all shared the same role, because she hated choosing.

“Choosing something would be the worst for Nick, because it meant leaving something out. If you asked her what’s her favorite color, the rainbow; she couldn’t pick one color because then the others would be left out," Carrie said.

Carrie says rainbow's were Nickie's thing.

“She would tell her friends when they’d get in a bad place: When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars. She meant it.”

Friends from all over Michigan have reached out to the Nabers, even friends they didn't know Nicki had.  They said a man, who called himself 'Wrong Number Guy,' called them when he found out about Nickie

“He said you don’t know me, but I’m wrong number guy. If you look in Nick’s phone that’s what I’m under. He had broken up with his girlfriend and lost his job and went to call friend and mis-dialed and got Nick. None of us are surprised that they ended up talking for two hours. Because Nick would have been on the phone saying 'You sound sad, what’s going on?'”

Sunday would've been Nickie's 18th birthday, so instead of a service on Saturday it will be a birthday celebration.

“We’ll plant her tree and everyone will come and put a handful in and help her tree grow. And we have some sky lanterns to release and then we’re all going to sing Happy Birthday,” said Carrie.

On Saturday everyone will be able to hear Nickie's voice one last time.

“Nick will be the last one to speak. Her last project in school was her senior project. They were supposed to do an essay about who they thought they were and who they thought they were going to be and how they thought they were going to change the world and she did an audio [project], and we have it.”

The audio from that project was on Nickie's computer, which was recovered in the accident.

Nickie's birthday party celebration is Saturday, June 18, 4 .p.m, at Naber Family Farm, 4747 49th St. in Holland.

Memorial donations can be made to Nickie Naber First-Responder Scholarship Fund, C/O Parda Credit Union, 259 E. 24th St.

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