WYOMING, Mich. — One day before a husband in Wyoming plans to say goodbye to his wife at her memorial, he recalled her talents and her heart. Then he shared a message offering no hate but seeking justice against the man accused of accidentally taking her life.
“You took the life of the woman I love and I don’t hold it against you," said Ben Crawford, if he could speak with Austin Hill, charged with leaving the scene of an accident after driving into his wife. "I know it was an accident but I hope you know that you ended a life.”
Chelsea Crawford, 26, was struck and killed by a red snow plow truck while walking to a bus stop along 52nd Avenue on her way to work Tuesday morning. Friday, Austin Hill, 21, was charged with felony hit and run as a habitual offender, facing up to 30 years in prison; bond set at $1 million since he was considered a flight risk with texts planning to go to Florida.
Walking into the Crawford's home Friday, FOX 17 saw each room has a bit of Chelsea's talents: from hand-built bookshelves to the paint.
“Everything she did was full of joy, and she gave the best hugs,” said Crawford. "And she always put everyone else first before herself. She had joy that no one could even compare to."
In Chelsea's library her husband explained are her talents and her heart: from her hand-sewn bridal veil trimmed with orange in their wedding photograph to the bookshelf she perfected without a plan.
“She loved color," he said. "Our wedding was all about color.”
“I was listening to an audio book and she said, ‘try me,’" Crawford recalled from when they first met. "So I told her it was Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and turned out it was one of her favorite books."
It was that spark and their shared love of books three years ago that grew into daily affection.
“There’s a book series that she loved called, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and there’s a character in it called the Copper of Camore," he said, shelving the book. "We always joked you know I love you more than the Copper of Camore.”
Her love of books is something Crawford will use to honor his wife during her memorial Saturday: a memento from her favorite series by Brent Weeks, The Lightbringer Series.
“And so for the funeral she’s going to get her own black guard captains, her own black guard," he explained as crucial characters from the series.
Update: Crawford says as of Jan. 16 Chelsea's bag was found and returned to Wyoming Police.
Now he hopes someone will return Chelsea's last belongings: her green, canvas messenger bag she had been wearing when she killed. It was carrying the last book she was reading along with her wallet and state ID.
“She never left the house without a book in her bag," he remembered.
And to Hill, the man accused of taking the life of his love, Crawford offered no hate but a plea for justice.
“If he would have stopped and seen what was going on and waited for the police to show up, and say it was an accident that’d be a different story," said Crawford. "But the fact that he ran, and he hid and then the cops had to kick down his door to get to him, that’s a different story.”
But Ben and Chelsea's story continues with these words they have always said, hung on a sign above their wedding photograph: "I love you more."
Crawford is asking for donations for his wife's memorial on this GoFundMe page.
Her memorial will take place Saturday, 10 a.m. at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.
If anyone finds Chelsea's green messenger bag or has additional information please call Wyoming Police: 616-530-7300.