Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 5, 2013

Fundraisers try to offset tragedy

TRAVERSE CITY — John Pomeroy and William Kochis were like father and son.

The two quickly became close when Kochis moved from Oxford and began working at Pomeroy’s Aflac insurance office in Traverse City. Soon their families were celebrating birthdays, holidays and traveling together.

Kochis, 29, and Pomeroy, 49, were killed Sept. 10 in a seven-vehicle chain reaction crash on U.S. 131 outside of Grand Rapids. Pomeroy’s wife Mary Jo Pomeroy said the pain of loss is still fresh, but she’s clear John would want to make sure Kochis’ children were supported.

“John was a very generous man, always helping people,” she said. “We feel that’s what his wish would have been.”

Five local salons plan to turn their proceeds on Oct. 19 or Oct. 20 to a college fund for William Kochis’ children and with the Pomeroy family’s blessing. Organizer Gina Gerbe said Kochis’ death leaves his wife Shannon Kochis, a hairdresser, little way to pay for their four children’s future education. All the children are ages 5 and under.

“Everybody stepping up and helping,” Gerbe said. “It’s very touching for the family.”

Gerbe said the family remains “shocked” about the crash, but haven’t given much thought to whether or not the at-fault driver would be charged. Witnesses said a Sparta man, 57, did not brake before his Ford pickup crashed into Pomeroy’s and Kochis’ vehicle that was stopped at a traffic backup.

Michigan State Police have yet to release the driver’s name and could not confirm if the case was forwarded to the Kent County prosecutor.

“We’re not thinking about it,” Gerbe said of a potential criminal case. “We’re thinking about Shannon and her four kids.”

Bella Amici, Salon 804, Twisted Hair and Vision Modern are holding fundraisers on Oct. 19. Hours and services that go toward the fundraiser vary from salon to salon. Studio 415 holds its fundraiser Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Individuals interested in participating are asked to call one of the salons and book an appointment for services that go toward the fundraiser.

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