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Community rallies to support Superior family following tragic losses

Sgt. Nick Eastman and his family suffered the loss of a daughter and his K-9 partner within days of each other.

Sgt. Nick Eastman poses with his K-9 Marik
Sgt. Nick Eastman poses with his K-9 Marik in December 2021 in Superior. Marik recently passed away.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Community members are pitching in to support a Superior family who lost their daughter and their pet, a former K-9 officer, within days of each other.

A GoFundMe page was launched Saturday, Jan. 21 for Superior Police Sgt. Nick Eastman, his wife Amanda, and daughter Hannah, following the death of the Eastmans' 19-year-old daughter, Hailey. As of Wednesday, Jan. 25, the fundraiser collected more than $83,000 to help cover hospital and funeral expenses.

Laura Plewa of Duluth, a family friend and co-worker of Amanda’s, set up the GoFundMe page. Plewa and Amanda work as registered nurses at St. Luke's.

“Amanda and Nick, their careers have been helping the community for years. They’re always helping others; they’re always working extra; they’re always out in the community,” Plewa said. “I just want to give back to them, and I think the community feels that, too.”

‘Hailey was a hero’

Hailey Eastman was a kind, loving young woman with a warm smile who was generous with her time, Plewa said.

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“She loves children, and children gravitate to her,” Plewa said. “People just love her.”

The 19-year-old was attending college to be an elementary teacher and hoped to work in special education. When Hailey suffered a seizure and collapsed at home due to an undiagnosed heart condition, her mother gave life saving measures immediately. Her father, who was working when the call came in, rushed to help. Hailey was brought to St. Luke’s and put on life support. She later died.

012723.N.ST.Marik.Hailey.jpg
Hailey Eastman of Superior poses for a picture. The 19-year-old's decision to be an organ donor saved four lives following her death.
Contributed / Laura Plewa

But even in death, the 19-year-old kept giving. Years ago, Hailey made the choice to check the organ donor box on her driver’s license. Plewa said her donation saved four lives, including that of a 10-year-old boy.

“If Hailey knew this, with her love of children, I know that she would just ... that’s what she would want. She would want to help others,” Plewa said.

That’s the part of the story that the teen’s parents want to share.

“Ultimately, what Nick and Amanda want to strike home with the population, with the community, is that Hailey was a hero,” Plewa said.

It's a choice anyone can make.

“Nick told me this last night when I was visiting with him, he said if parents can have that conversation with their adult children to make those decisions and inform them what they’re about, he says that’s critical,” Plewa said.

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Visit LifeSource or DonateLife Wisconsin for more information on organ donation or to register. According to LifeSource, there are 3,000 people in the community currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

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Community’s dog

K-9 Marik drools as he plays with a Kong while Sgt. Nick Eastman answers questions
K-9 Marik drools as he plays with a Kong while Sgt. Nick Eastman answers questions at the government center in December 2021 in Superior. Marik recently passed away.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Days after Hailey died, the Eastmans said goodbye to another member of their family, retired K-9 Marik. The 10-year-old German Shepherd served with Nick in the Superior Police Department for seven-and-a-half years. He was the first area K-9 to be purchased through the Amsoil Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation.

Marik was deployed 541 times and is credited with 91 arrests, including helping apprehend a man in a Superior apartment who was wanted for fatally shooting a child in Chicago. The Superior K-9 helped recover three firearms from felons and is responsible for removing just shy of 600 grams of methamphetamine from the streets.

Marik was a familiar sight in Superior, appearing at parades, community picnics, Operation K-9 events, schools, assisted living homes and other public demonstrations. He was more than a work partner, though.

Sgt. Nick Eastman holds onto the leash of K-9 Marik
Sgt. Nick Eastman holds onto the leash of K-9 Marik in December 2021 in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“Marik went everywhere with Nick, and Marik went everywhere with the family. If the family went camping, Marik went. If the family was going on day trips, Marik went,” Plewa said.

Marik became suddenly ill with a gastrointestinal condition and was hospitalized a few days before Hailey died, but they were able to have a final visit.

“Marik was able to be brought on a special little cart to Hailey’s bed and lay on the bed with her and be with the whole family for the entire day of her last day with them,” Plewa said.

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Marik died three days later, she said. The family is still in shock, experiencing grief and tears as they take it hour-by-hour.

“I think the loss of Marik just put an extra layer of pain on top of everything else that was going on,” Plewa said. “And it truly is tragic to lose two members, I mean, literally two members of your family at one time.”

All the funds raised through GoFundMe will help the Eastmans with hospital, veterinarian and funeral bills as they work through the double loss.

“And I know Nick said when they resurface, they want people to greet them and tell them that their daughter was a hero. I think they want her name to still be out there and never forgotten,” Plewa said. ”When you see them out again, say ‘You have an amazing daughter.’ I think that would be really nice.”

Sgt. Nick Eastman is reflected in the window of his vehicle next to K-9 Marik’s decal
Sgt. Nick Eastman is reflected in the window of his vehicle next to K-9 Marik’s decal in Superior in December 2021.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
012723.N.ST.Marik.Mug.jpg
Retired Superior Police Department K-9 Marik wears a hat for a photo in this undated picture.
Contributed / Laura Plewa

This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 26 to correct the date a photo of Sgt. Nick Eastman was taken. It was originally posted at 6 p.m. Jan. 25. The Telegram regrets the error.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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