BOUNTIFUL — The funerals for a couple who planned to welcome their first child this week have been scheduled to take place at the same reception center where they planned to exchange wedding vows this summer, family members say.
“We can’t give them a wedding now,” said Jen Halterman, the mother of Kelsey Halterman.
Kelsey Halterman, 21, and her fiance, Garrett Barker, 22, died Saturday morning after their Dodge pickup truck slid off an icy Interstate 215 overpass and crashed.
The two, who were living in West Valley, were on their way to work at Utah Animal Care Center in Bountiful at the time of the accident. The couple’s unborn son, whom they planned to name Sage, also died following an emergency delivery as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
Five dogs that were inside the truck also died of injuries sustained in the accident.
For Jen Halterman, of Colorado, and her ex-husband, Navy Chief Dan Halterman, of Mt. Vernon, Wash., Sage would have been their first grandson. Both had planned to be in Utah to meet their grandson at the time of his birth, which was scheduled for Sunday. Now both are in Utah planning a funeral for the couple and their grandson.
Jen Halterman said her daughter wanted to be married in the Mitchell Barn reception center, 1428 Sunset Drive, in Kaysville. Now, a viewing is planned from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the center, with the funeral planned for noon Thursday at the center.
The Haltermans, along with Barker’s parents, describe the couple as two of the kindest people, who both loved animals and also were willing to do anything to help another person.
Dan Halterman said Garrett Barker drove to Washington with his daughter to ask “for her hand in marriage. That showed me he had honor and character, which isn’t common these days.”
The couple spent a few days in Washington, and “I could see what an awesome couple they were. They were a perfect match. Definitely meant for each other,” Dan Halterman said, taking a moment to gain his composure.
Barker’s adoptive parents, Mirjam and Jay Barker, of North Ogden, described the boy who came into their lives 14 years ago as a “sweet, loving little boy from the get-go.”
“You expect your children to bury you, not you burying a child,” said Jay Barker, wiping tears from his eyes.
Ron Boweter, of Roy, Garrett Barker’s birth father, said he and his son were building a frog tank, which is half done.
“He always had a soft heart toward animals and such,” Boweter said, choking back tears. “I could never imagine (my son’s death) in a million years. This is definitely the worst thing I’ve been through. Hold your kids tight. Tell them to take care in everything they do.”
Boweter said he has been overwhelmed with the love and support the community and family have shown the past few days for the son who spent many weekends going wave-running with him at Pineview Reservoir and Utah Lake.
Tonya Monard, of West Valley, said she too is surprised by and appreciates all the support they have received. Monard is Garrett Barker’s birth mother.
On Saturday, when news about the couple’s death reached friends, many, including those who live in North Ogden, drove to Monard’s house to offer support and help.
“Garrett has such amazing friends,” she said, also choking back tears.
Garrett Barker and Kelsey Halterman were living with Monard at the time of their death. They were saving money to buy a house and did everything together, Monard said.
They also shared a love for animals. Along with their five dogs, the two had four cats, six snakes, a bearded dragon, a lizard and a tarantula, Monard said.
Dr. Pam Nichols at the clinic where the two worked said the pair “grew up here. They came here young and they matured here.”
Kelsey Halterman started working at the clinic when she was 17. Garrett Barker started working there as a volunteer about 18 months ago and “made himself so invaluable we had to hire him,” Nichols said.
The two were known for taking in foster animals, caring for them and then finding permanent homes for them.
Kelsey Halterman’s mother called her daughter “the animal whisperer. Before she was 2 years old she could get any animal to do anything for her. She could calm them down.”
It was difficult Monday morning when the clinic opened, Nichols said.
The couple were both looking forward to the birth of their son. Nichols said, her voice cracking with grief, that Kelsey Halterman told her on Friday, “I just can’t wait to hold him and look into his face.”
An account has been set up for anyone who wants to help the families with funeral expenses, Monard said. It is under “Garrett and Kel Boweter” at America First Credit Union.