WINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A young man who survived a crash that killed his girlfriend and a baby on M-46 is facing a tough recovery.
The afternoon of Jan. 6, 2019 was supposed to be a normal one for 19-year-old Zachary Buckles and his 18-year-old girlfriend Samantha Baker. They were in the car Baker's mom Michelle was driving, heading back from church with Baker's niece, 9-month-old Annalee.
“I don’t remember a thing," Buckles tells FOX 17.
He says he hangs on to a final memory he shared with the love of his life before her life was cut short.
“As we were on our way home, she started giggling and I noticed that she was spying on me through the side window," Buckles says. "So I laughed and I leaned back and she leans forward to see me more and we laughed and that’s the last thing I remember, but at least it was a laugh.”
As they were heading east on M-46 and getting ready to turn onto Amble Road, a pickup truck hit them from behind. This pushed their car into oncoming traffic, causing them to get hit again by another truck.
Buckles recalls his first memory after he woke up in the hospital.
“They were like, ‘Yeah, you were in a bad accident.’ But I was a little everywhere with the stuff they had me on," Buckles says.
He had a broken jaw, 14 stitches in his arm and a head injury that left him with memory problems.
Buckles says he asked hospital staff if his girlfriend and her niece were OK but at first, they wouldn't tell him. He soon learned that Annalee died at the scene and Baker passed away at the hospital.
“I’ve challenged the question of everything and I started kinda going downhill like, with my belief in God and everything," Buckles says. "But I’m going back to church now and that’s helping me out a lot more. I still find myself alone at the end of the day, so that’s a little rough on me.”
Before the crash, Buckles says he had plans to propose to Baker. Now, he's left with memories of her that are difficult to face.
“Going home knowing that I’d be going home to just a dog that me and Sam bought," Buckles says. "I stayed downstairs for almost a month, sleeping on the couch ‘cause I knew that once I went back to my room, that’s where all the memories was ‘cause me and Sam kinda started living together.”
Buckles smiles, remembering the woman he hoped to marry.
“She was very outgoing, which made everybody love her," Buckles says. "Always had a laugh. Loved her little cute nose, I will be honest with that, just kind of a like a ski ramp but when she had something on her mind, she would speak it, which I loved.”
Now, three months later, Buckles is still struggling with his injuries and the expenses they've incurred. His family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with the $15,000 it will take to cover his surgeries and medication. He has shoulder surgery scheduled on April 18.
Though he survived the brutal crash, Buckles says he doesn't feel lucky.
“Really the only thing that’s keeping me going is working again but I can’t do much anymore," Buckles says.
Michelle Baker, who was driving, also survived.
Buckles says he is extremely grateful for the kindness and support he's gotten from the community.
“The community’s been great," Buckles says. "I love walking up to people and seeing smiles and like, ‘Oh you’re Zachary, it’s nice to see you.’ And just friendly talks, you know? I love the people. I love who I work with.”
Police have not yet said what cased the first vehicle to hit them.