Family tries to cope in the aftermath of crash that killed 'gentle giant' Rozier Taylor

·3 min read

LANSING – For the family he left behind, nothing much has changed in the three weeks since 33-year-old Rozier "Ro" Taylor lost his life in a crash that also injured the four young children riding in his vehicle.

They still don't know what caused his vehicle to veer off northbound U.S. 127, roll into the median and collide with the Dunckel Road bridge.

Rozier "Ro" Taylor
Rozier "Ro" Taylor

Authorities have yet to release Taylor's remains while they await test results confirming his identity. And at the Okemos home he shared with his fiancée and their children, the Christmas tree is still up, with wrapped presents nestled beneath it.

"We're all still in this in-between place," Tiera Woldt, one of Taylor's siblings, said Thursday. "It still feels like that same day. We're all stuck in that same time."

Woldt said she's struggling to balance the loss of her brother, who she described as a "gentle giant" and a devoted family man, with gratitude and relief that the children survived the horrendous crash.

"I'm very thankful that, for whatever condition he was in, he still buckled them all up. I've been able to have them over and see them. I have many days of anger, and then I have days of gratitude that my nieces and nephews are still here."

The family has started a crowdfunding campaign to cover funeral costs and help them with other expenses. Through Thursday, the effort had raised $4,290.

The crash happened about 3:25 p.m. Dec. 21. Taylor's sport-utility vehicle caught fire after crashing into the bridge. Passers-by managed to pull the children to safety but were unable to extract him from the wreckage.

The children included a 4-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl, a 2½-year-old boy and a 7-month-old boy. Two of them were initially listed in critical condition, but all four are recovering. Two of the children are still immobilized in large casts because of broken bones, Woldt said.

Rozier "Ro" Taylor, with his fiancee, Caitlin Oliver, and their son.
Rozier "Ro" Taylor, with his fiancee, Caitlin Oliver, and their son.

The girl and the baby boy were Taylor's biological children, she said. The other two were his step-children, she said.

Taylor stayed at home and took care of the children, while his fiancée, Caitlin Oliver, went to work at General Motors, she said.

At roughly 6-foot-4, Taylor was physically imposing and "big and loud and goofy", said Woldt, a preschool teacher in the Holt School District. In reality, he was "a big softie," she added.

"He was just very, very family-oriented; that's all he did," she said, adding that sports and music were his other big passions. "He was the biggest (University of) Michigan fan ever. He was Michigan all the way – football, basketball, whatever."

Taylor was an outlier in that regard. The rest of the family were more inclined toward Michigan State University, she said.

"He and my husband would have their bets," Woldt said. "Ro was like a sportscaster. He knew everything."

The family still hasn't seen police reports concerning the crash, and authorities were still awaiting the DNA results they need to confirm his identity, she said. The family expects to get at least some of that information next week, she said.

Woldt said she and Oliver have been off work since the tragedy happened, and Oliver won't be able to go back for 10 to 12 weeks. Other family members who live out of state have remained in the Lansing area since the crash, she said.

Rozier "Ro" Taylor, shown here with his daughter.
Rozier "Ro" Taylor, shown here with his daughter.

Woldt said she doesn't know who stopped to help on the freeway that day, although another family member was able to thank at least some of them personally.

"I'm just truly, truly thankful they were placed on that highway at that time," she said. "People started stopping and bringing out blankets. I'm just grateful somebody got them out, thankful that someone or some divine entity put them there."

Lansing police have released no updates since the day the crash happened and said they would not release the name of the person who died.

Contact Ken Palmer at kpalmer@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Weeks after fatal U.S. 127 crash, family in holding pattern with DNA results pending

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting