By Matt Schepeler
It is a husband’s – and a dog lover’s – worst nightmare.
Randy Beck and his wife, Lori, came to the Irish Hills from their home in Archbold, Ohio to camp at Paradise Campground off of U.S. 12 near Cement City last week. Randy came first, as Lori had to work, and she followed on Friday, June 9 with the couple’s two dogs, Lily, a 1-year-old Shih Tzu, and Jazz, a German shorthair pointer.
When Lori arrived at the campground she stopped to turn into the campground and got rear-ended by a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck being driven by David Alan Voss, 58, of Horton. The impact of the crash sent her 2015 Chevy Trax careening into the other lane, where she was struck head-on by a 2008 Toyota passenger vehicle driven by Claude David Crumb, 49, of Osseo, Michigan.
Lori was severely injured in the crash. When bystanders opened the door to help Lori, both dogs, in a highly panicked state, leapt out of the car and took off, “one in one direction and the other in the other direction,” said Randy.
After being rear-ended June 9 on U.S. 12 near Paradise Campground, Lori Beck’s 2015 Chevy Trax, above, was shoved into the path of another vehicle, where she was struck head-on. The days that followed could have turned into a nightmare for Jim Beck, were it not for the support of our community, starting with a young man named Jason Morin and a cadre of caring individuals.
The dilemma was horrible. Not only was Lori in critical condition, but the family’s two pets had bolted and apparently gotten lost in a strange area. “People don’t understand how attached to a dog you can get,” said Randy, speaking specifically of Lori’s love for Lily, the Shih Tzu.
To make matters worse, it was stifling hot. Jazz, a hunting dog, seemed better equipped for survival in the outdoors, but Lily had rarely been outside of the couple’s yard, and would stand little chance of surviving for long in the wild.
“I kept thinking of the coyotes, and how hot it was,” said Randy Beck, adding that Lily only weighs around eight pounds.
Lori was taken to Henry Ford Allegiance in Jackson, where she was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. When she was stabilized and inquired of the dogs, “I had to tell her the truth,” said Randy. Her response was predictable, and she gave her husband clear marching orders: “Go find them.”
Randy was determined to get his dogs back, as much for Lori as for himself. “I knew I had to find Lily. The doctors told me how important it would be to Lori’s recovery to have the dog safe,” he said. Beck notified area store clerks up and down U.S. 12, handed out business cards at various places, and scoured the area looking for the dogs, to no avail. The trail had gone cold.
Then Beck received a report that someone had seen a German short hair running along U.S. 12 about five miles west of where the accident happened, and he went to Somerset to look around. The search led him to stop at the Somerset Fire Department, where firefighter Jason Morin was on duty.
Morin had not seen the dog, and admitted that he felt helpless. “Here was this guy whose wife was in the hospital and his two dogs were lost,” said Morin. “I had to do something.”
Morin asked Beck if he had a picture of the dogs, and he said he did, but it was on his phone and he didn’t know how to get it off. “I’m an old guy,” said Beck jokingly.
Morin helped get the photos off Beck’s phone and posted the pictures on his Facebook page. Within a few minutes, the story was shared, then shared again, and then it took off, eventually getting thousands of shares.
It wasn’t long before he started getting responses.
“I got a call from a lady in Battle Creek who wanted to come with her girl friend to help look,” he said.
Then, two days after the crash, on Sunday, Beck got good news. Two men from Livonia had noted a German shorthair pointer lying beside the road on U.S. 12, “They stopped and coaxed her into the car and drove to [Artesian Wells] the gas station on the corner,” he said. The people there called Beck, and he was reconnected with Jazz.
“I tried to give them $100, but they wouldn’t take a dime.”
But Lily was still missing, and with each passing day things looked worse.
“Then we heard that someone had fed a Shih Tzu on Miller Highway” said Beck. The tip came from Jason Morin, who had stayed in contact with Beck and was actively involved in helping find the missing dog. Beck had been in contact with members of the Addison fire department, and people from throughout the community were concerned.
On that Sunday, a woman who lived on Miller Highway had noticed Lily outside her porch, she fed and watered her, but Lily took off into the woods after eating.
The search intensified, but Lily still could not be found. That is when Beck got a call from Laura Bristle of Tecumseh with an idea.
“She said I should record my wife’s voice calling for lily,” said Beck. He added that Bristle had a megaphone he could use to amplify the recording.
The dog was said to have been spotted again on Tuesday, June 13, at Juniper Hills Campground, and a team of concerned residents and friends gathered to look for the lost Shih Tzu, but while there they got a call that Lily was again seen at the Miller Road house, and had run off into the woods again.
The team went to the house and surrounded the woods. Using the megaphone, they played the recording of Lori Beck calling for her beloved Lily and, lo and behold, Lily responded to the voice and ran out of the woods and into the arms of Randy.
There was no hiding the emotions as Beck, a former police officer, hugged Lily. “I couldn’t hold it back,” he said.
Before reuniting Lily with Lori Beck, Laura Bristle, who owns DeShed Dog Grooming in Tecumseh and had been on hand to help with the search, took Lily home and cleaned her up. Lily was in rough shape. She was covered with ticks, had a blood sucker in her armpit and her hair was matted with prickers and stick-tights.
“Luckily, she had just been groomed so her hair wasn’t too long,” said Bristle.
Randy Beck said that reuniting Lori and Lily was an emotional moment, and said that if it wasn’t for people like Jason Morin and Laura Bristle, the story likely would have had a different ending.
“I don’t know how much longer Lily could have survived out there,” he said. “I can’t thank everyone who helped enough.”
Editor’s note: Lori Beck has been moved to the University of Toledo Medical Center to continue her rehabilitation. She is receiving six hours of therapy a day, said Randy Beck. According to the police report, neither Voss nor Crumb were injured in the accident. The report stated that Voss was not distracted, and that alcohol or drugs do not appear to have been a factor in the crash, and that driving conditions were normal. The accident remains under investigation by the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Department.