SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — With a car barreling toward her daughter and pregnant friend earlier this month, Barbara Janke didn’t hesitate to act.
The Sheboygan woman’s family says the 60-year-old, a loving mother to the end, pushed the other two out of the way and absorbed the brunt of the impact herself. She ended up in a coma and died Monday.
“If you would have known my mother, that’s just who she was,” said Shanna Bassler, 31, Janke’s oldest daughter. ” It didn’t surprise me one bit, because she was a mom.”
Janke was leaving the Brat Days festival on Aug. 6 with her 19-year-old daughter and her daughter’s friend, a 19-year-old who is five months pregnant.
Bassler said the three checked for traffic before entering the street, but a blue sedan with no headlights on suddenly barreled toward them. Bassler speculated that her mother reacted after catching sight of the vehicle at the last moment.
“I was not surprised that she would push the girls out of the way,” Bassler told The Sheboygan Press. “That was just her.”
The two women suffered relatively minor injuries. Prosecutors say the pregnant woman had a large cut on the back of her head and a possible broken leg, and Bassler said her sister was released from the hospital Sunday.
Prosecutors charged Kayla Mary Bower, 19, with five felonies, including homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. A court commissioner set her bail at $100,000 Tuesday, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled Aug. 19.
A message left with Bower’s attorney Saturday was not immediately returned.
While the events of the collision happened in an instant, Bassler said she’s convinced that her mother acted to save the other two women. Bassler acknowledged that no one will ever know her mother’s exact intentions, but she said information from her sister and crash witnesses produced a story consistent with the way Janke lived her life.
“All of my friends thought of her as a second mom, and that’s the honest-to-god truth,” Bassler said.
Janke’s survivors include two grandchildren from Bassler: 10-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Kylie. Cole was especially devastated, Bassler said.
“He is just distraught,” she said. “He can’t think, he can’t talk. It’s just hit him horribly hard.”
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