Updated May 25, 2019 - 7:30 pm
Eight days after Michael “Mikie” Sigler died in a motorcycle crash, the high school senior’s older brother walked across a stage Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center to accept a diploma on his behalf.
On May 17, Sigler, an 18-year-old Cimarron-Memorial High School student, was riding his motorcycle when he was struck by a car, driven by an 18-year-old student, on westbound Lake Mead Boulevard, near North Buffalo Drive, the Metropolitan Police Department said. Sigler was taken off life support Wednesday at University Medical Center, his mother, Courtney Kaplan, said.
While Christian Sigler accepted the diploma on his younger brother’s behalf, about 40 of Michael Sigler’s family members were expected to attend the ceremony.
“I feel like in so many ways, it was symbolic for him to make that walk and accept the diploma,” Kaplan said Friday about her eldest son. “He lost his only brother.”
Kaplan walked with her older son during Saturday’s ceremony. She said on Friday that during the school year, Michael Sigler worked hard to pass his classes and qualify for graduation.
“Mikie earned this, and it is an honor to be representing him and receiving his diploma,” she said after Saturday’s ceremony.
Michael Sigler grew up with an older sister, an older brother and two younger sisters, both of whom still attend the high school. Christian Sigler, now 19, is only 19 months older than his brother.
“They were inseparable,” Kaplan said Friday. “They were each other’s best friend and each other’s mentor.”
Michael Sigler’s family knew before Wednesday that he wasn’t going to recover from the crash but were waiting to take him off life support. A few months ago, the 18-year-old registered as an organ donor when he accomplished a lifelong dream of getting his motorcycle license.
He had a rare blood type for organ donation — type B — so his organs might save up to nine people who have waited on the donor list, Kaplan said.
“I know we all grieve differently, and perhaps the hatchet will fall some point, but honestly I miss him, (but) I’m not sorrowful. I’m not unable to cope,” Kaplan said. “I’m really, really proud of what Mikie’s done.”
The community also has rallied around the family. A fundraiser, organized by VegasHealthcare, took place Thursday at Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe to raise money to help pay for medical and cremation costs.
On Wednesday, as he was being pushed in a hospital bed to the operating room to have his organs removed, Michael Sigler’s graduation gown was draped over him. Hospital staff lined the hallways during the hospital’s first-ever “honor walk,” meant to recognize organ donors. They watched as Michael Sigler’s family followed behind his hospital bed.
Michael Sigler had picked up the graduation gown from school the day of the crash, Kaplan said.
He had just dropped off the graduation regalia when he left his mother’s home again, driving his motorcycle to a friend’s house to help him with homework. Then the crash happened.
Kaplan has said she doesn’t blame the 18-year-old driver. She said meeting him gave her “closure.”
“I want to pour whatever I can into that young man. He’s got a whole life to live, and we want to support him on his way as well,” she said Saturday.
‘This is a beginning’
After the graduation ceremony, Kaplan and Michael Sigler’s father, Charles Sigler, said they will continue to share their son’s story.
“This is a beginning,” Charles Sigler said. “Sharing Michael’s gift of life and carrying the donor message as far and wide as I can, that’s what this is about.”
He also thanked the community for the “outpouring of love.”
“Our motto ‘Vegas Strong’ is worth of this town, absolutely worthy,” Charles Sigler said.
And while Michael Sigler wasn’t at Saturday’s ceremony, his family was there instead, to make sure he was recognized.
When the graduating seniors were signaled to walk across the stage and accept their diplomas, Mikie was the first one called.