Shumaker and his family were on their way home from a rained-out softball game in a two-car caravan when a driver - who police say was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – hit Shumaker’s car in a head-on crash.
Family members said the 37-year-old Grand Haven man threw his body in front of his daughter when the truck careened toward them during a rain storm near Fruitport. Shumaker’s body took most of the impact of the crash, cushioning his daughter Madison.
He died at the scene, and 10-year-old Madison escaped with scrapes and bruises. Emergency workers took her to a Muskegon-area hospital, where she was treated and released.
Shumaker’s wife, Amanda, had been following him in another vehicle with the couple’s youngest daughter, Kaitlynn, when the fatal collision occurred.
Just before the crash, at 4:19 p.m. Saturday, a picture of a downpour as shown through the windshield of a car was posted on Amanda’s Facebook page by 7-year-old Kaitlynn. Below it was written, “Holy raining in Ravanna.”
Amanda said one moment her daughter had posted on Facebook, and the next she saw the crash occur. She said what her husband did was incredible.
“He saved her life,” she said, breaking down into tears.
Muskegon County Sheriff’s deputies rushed to Heights-Ravenna Road near Ensley Road in Sullivan Township at about 4:20 p.m. Authorities said the driver of a pickup truck, identified as Steven Paul Spencer, 24, tried to pass another vehicle, but lost control and hit the 2007 Ford Focus driven by Shumaker.
Spencer was treated at an area hospital, booked into the Muskegon County Jail and then scheduled to be arraigned this morning. The charge: a felony count of driving while intoxicated resulting in death.
But friends and family members of John Shumaker chose to speak about his life rather than his death on Sunday as they gathered to support Amanda and the girls.
“He was great because of his love,” said Jason Whitaker, Shumaker’s cousin.
Family members described Shumaker as a wonderful man who always put his wife of 11 years and daughters first. Whether it was helping his daughters with school projects or coaching at softball games, the engineer always made it a priority to be present.
Shumaker met his wife at Ferris State University, where the two had mutual friends. In June of 2001, Amanda married her best friend, the man she describes as a phenomenal husband and fantastic father.
“You only get a soulmate once,” she said. “He was mine.”
The family enjoyed softball, going to the beach and camping. Shumaker particularly loved marshmallows cooked over a campfire. Burning marshmallows to a crisp was Kaitlynn’s job, Amanda said.
Shumaker learned to like NASCAR, said his brother-in-law Scott VanAelst, and even traveled to states such as North Carolina and Florida with him.
VanAelst said John was an all-around wonderful man.
“He would do anything he could for anyone,” he said.
The love Shumaker had for his family stands out the most to Amanda’s uncle, Mike Wrzesinski.
“He didn’t deserve to go,” Wrzesinski said.
Shumaker’s infectious smile lit up a room whenever he discussed his wife and children. It’s one of the things his cousin Sally Nash Boyd remembers the most about him.
“He was very quiet, but he was more than happy to tell you about something his daughters had done at school,” she said.
In the end, Shumaker acted on that love, echoed his cousin Jason.
“His last second on Earth, he did the ultimate,” he said.