Mother gets piece of daughter back in form of last photo
On Sept. 20, 2014, a sunny autumn afternoon, Morgan McGregor and other Spartan football fans gathered in Spartan Stadium to witness a 73-14 victory over Eastern Michigan University. With her hands held high in celebration, Raj Mehta snapped a quick picture of the crowd.
A wonderful afternoon for McGregor, a big MSU win was followed with celebrating her mother Renee McGregor's birthday.
Just a week later, Morgan's heart stopped beating. She died of natural causes. Morgan suffered from heart problems and no drugs or alcohol were involved in her sudden death. The photo taken of McGregor in the crowd of Spartan Stadium on Sept. 20, 2014 by Mehta would end up being the last photo taken of her.
Filled with somberness and tears, Renee saw the picture of Morgan celebrating in Spartan Stadium in October 2014 and was overcome with emotion. This sent the McGregor family on a search for the photographer. They wanted to obtain the photo.
Initially contacting different publishers yielded no results for the family. They were certain they would not find the photo until February 2016, when they reached out on social media to see if their luck would change. Using social media, the picture was shared on Facebook more than 1,000 times and the McGregor family was able to find Mehta and the original photo the day after they posted about needing help.
“That photo is a gift,” Renee said. “I consider it to be the last and best birthday present Morgan ever gave me.”
“I never thought this photo would have such an impact,” Mehta said. “I was just trying to capture the excitement and energy of Spartan fans that day.”
In memory of her older sister, business freshman Lauren McGregor now attends MSU.
Originally considering Grand Valley State University, after the death of Morgan, Lauren decided she owed it to her older sister to attend MSU. Some of her favorite memories with her sister include spontaneous trips to Cedar Point.
“When I think of the picture, I think of how fun she was,” Lauren said. “She was loved widely and deeply.”
Graduate student and close friend to Morgan, David Thornton, is the boy seen celebrating next to Morgan in the photo. Thornton said Morgan's expression in the photo represents her infectious personality.
“She had an ability to brighten anyone’s day, myself included,” Thornton said. “Anyone who knew Morgan would agree that she’s a beloved member of the Spartan family and I am truly lucky I knew Morgan so well.”
Pi Beta Phi sorority set up “Pi Beta Phive K: Miles for Morgan“ in her memory last year. The race was held April 19, 2015 on the MSU campus. It was set to honor Morgan and bring awareness to heart conditions. The "Morgan McGregor Endowed Memorial Scholarship" was also created by the McGregor family and Pi Beta Phi in Morgan's honor.
“I'm honored to have captured her smiling and having such a good time that day,” Mehta said.
The family was able to receive copies of the photo.
“It does my heart good to see her so happy on one of her final days alive,” Renee said. “I’ll treasure that photo for the rest of my life.”