Superior family mourns loss of daughter, K9 partner, days apart

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 8:33 PM CST
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SUPERIOR, WI. (Northern News Now) -- A Superior family is grieving the loss of both their 19-year-old daughter and beloved K9 police partner, both passing, just days apart.

“Hailey is a very sweet, very generous, and a very loving person,” said Laura Pleva, a family friend of the Eastman’s.

Hailey Eastman was a 19-year-old college freshman, studying to be an elementary and special education teacher.

She suffered a medical emergency on January 15th and died days later, this past Friday.

Doctors called it an undiagnosed cardiac condition.

Plewa said Hailey’s family, parents Nick and Amanda and sister Hannah, are taking each moment breath by breath, grieving both Hailey and Nick’s retired Superior Police K9 partner, Marik.

“Nobody expects to lose their child, and I think losing Marik was an extra layer of pain for the family,” Plewa said.

According to the Northland K9 Foundation, Marik served the Superior community for seven-and-a-half years, was deployed 541 times and is credited with 91 arrests.

He retired just a year ago.

Marik, who was ten years old, became ill earlier this month and was eventually hospitalized with a gastrointestinal condition.

“Marik was able to go to the hospital to see Hailey and be with her and he actually yowled when he saw her, he laid on her bed, he was part of that family time they had together,” Plewa said. “He was then brought back to the hospital where he died of his condition on Monday.”

Plewa said Hailey loved helping others, which was one of the reasons she checked the box to be an organ donor when she applied for her first driver’s license.

“Hailey is a hero on a level that most of us will never reach, she was able to help out four people and to help save their lives, one of them being a young ten-year-old boy,” Plewa said.

Hailey’s family didn’t hesitate when LifeSource, the region’s organ donation organization, approached them about the possibility of donation.

“In the United States there are over 100,000 people waiting on the transplant list, and every nine minutes a new name is added to that list, so we are in the race against time,” said Erin Lilliencrantz with LifeSource.

She said organ donation is incredibly rare as certain criteria must be met.

Those criteria are: the person must die in a hospital, they must be on ventilated support, and experience brain death or non-survival injury.

Lilliencrantz said for everyone that passes away, only about one percent of people meet that criteria.

“By registering as a donor, you are leaving instructions for your family and friends to follow along with your wishes, and it really leaves a legacy,” Lilliencrantz said.

That legacy is one the Eastman family will never forget.

“Hailey is a hero, and I know Nick and Amanda and Hannah want her to be remembered that way,” Plewa said.

Plewa started a GoFundMe to support the Eastman family with funeral and other expenses.

It’s raised over $80,000 so far.

The family also hopes to use a portion of the money to start a scholarship in Hailey’s honor.

You can find a link to that here.

To learn how you can register to be an organ donor, click here.