Updated 07/22/2011 06:16 PM
Hundreds pay respect to Amish crash victims
The Amish community in Jasper continues to mourn the loss of five people from their community killed in Yates County Tuesday. Our Lara Greenberg tells us how the community has come together in this time of need.
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JASPER, N.Y. -- The Amish community in Jasper continues to mourn the loss of five people from their community killed in Yates County Tuesday. Police say a van of Amish passengers was hit by a car and then swerved into a tractor in the Town of Benton. Funerals were held Friday for three of the victims.
When five Amish people from Jasper were killed in a horrible crash in Yates County Tuesday, it struck a chord in the Amish community nationwide. Officials estimate close to 1,500 people attended the funerals of three victims Friday: Melvin Hershberger, Melvin Hostetler and Anna Mary Byler.
"There's some people from the Tennessee Valley, Kentucky, Ohio, west of the Mississippi, I think there's a charter too. And a lot of Amish from Pennsylvania," said Steuben County Sheriff Chief Deputy Noel Terwilliger.
Five services were held in all in Jasper, followed by a viewing of the bodies and a procession to the burial site.
Vans and charter buses transported the Amish from around the country to Steuben County. Rusty Cornwell drove 42 Amish people from Meadville, Pennsylvania.
"You know, their hearts go out to the individuals. And I could feel that. I could relate to that. You know, you can actually sense that, you know, they're really heartbroken," said Rusty Cornwell, a bus driver for Corey Transport.
But support from the non-Amish is equally impressive. Food and monetary donations have been pouring in. And roughly 30 people at the Jasper Fire Hall have been sorting it all out.
"We've been delivering food since yesterday morning and it was coming in faster than we could take it out. And it's still the same today as you can see. We just have tons of food here," said Jasper Fire Chief Ron Friends.
An Amish Relief Fund was formed to give them food and help pay for hospital bills. The Amish don't have insurance and have to pay those bills out of pocket. They say they appreciate all the support from the community and officials expected an even larger turnout at Saturday's funerals.
"The word goes out and if people are available to come, they come," said Terwilliger.
The two remaining funerals will be held Saturday. Officials are expecting a larger turnout for those.
And if you'd like to donate to the Amish Relief Fund, you can send donations to:
Amish Relief Fund
P.O. Box 123
Woodhull, NY 14898
Or contact Bob Manley, from the Manley Agency, at (607) 792-3800.