“He knew we needed Hannah” | Amish Family Reflects On Buggy Crash, Grateful For Support

A month ago, two Amish children lost their lives when the pony pulling their cart apparently bolted in front of an oncoming car. Eleven-year-old Rachel Miller, and her brother, 7-year-old Samuel, perished in the accident. Their sister Hannah was thrown from the cart, but survived.

Hannah Miller and her younger brother. Screenshot: WOOD TV8

West Michigan station WOOD TV8 has spoken with Hannah’s parents Eli and Fannie about how they’ve managed following this tragedy and about the response of the community. From the report:

MANTON, Mich. (WOOD) — A month after two of their children died in a buggy crash in Wexford County, an Amish couple struggles with a home that’s a little less crowded, a little quieter.

But they are thankful that their 9-year-old daughter Hannah is home from the hospital and for the support they’re getting from the community.

Hannah spent part of Monday at the family’s farmhouse in Manton, near Cadillac, putting together puzzles with her little brother, her only surviving sibling. Her smile warmed the room. A neck brace was a stark contrast to her long, gray homemade dress and black bonnet. The brace was the only outward reminder of what she’s been through.

“It’s hard to go on without the rest and yet we feel God has helped us,” her father Eli Miller told News 8 on Monday. “He knew we needed Hannah.”

Hannah spent two weeks in hospital recovering from serious injuries to her head, pelvis, arm, and leg. It seems to me her condition just a month later, able to play normally with her brother with just the brace, is remarkable.

The Miller family home. Screenshot: WOOD TV8

When these accidents happen, Amish can depend on their local churches for support and aid. At the same time, non-Amish neighbors, and even people from far away, often want to help too. And the Millers have experienced that here. They’ve appreciated the outpouring of support from the community:

“Our local community drivers came and they were wanting to take us wherever we needed to go,” Eli Miller said. “We have not paid any money for trips down there. The Salvation Army took us down there a couple of times.”

The support continued through the funeral and burial and hasn’t stopped — from those in the Amish community and from those outside it. Eli Miller showed a basket full of cards from as far away as Texas and Florida. Within days of the crash, Chico’s Taco House in Cadillac set up a food truck in Manton and promised half the proceeds to the family.

Grave markers of Rachel Miller and Samuel Miller. Screenshot: WOOD TV8

The Millers received over $1,000 from that effort. There was a lot more given in addition to that:

“It’s overwhelming,” Eli Miller said. “The first days of the funeral, a local man that was a first responder at the scene came with a bag of envelopes with money that was collected from the locals; hundreds, thousands, actually thousands. People we had no idea who they were.

“The community is a lot larger than I ever imagined because of the people outside of the Amish pitching in and helping in a lot of different ways.”

For those who wish to donate, the article gives the Manton Metal Company (Eli’s workplace) as the place to do that (that appears to be this place). It also notes that the Michigan Amish Medical Board, “a network connected to the state’s 60 Amish churches” will help to cover whatever is not paid for by donations.

Funeral procession of Amish buggies and cars. Screenshot: WOOD TV8

The Amish don’t carry commercial medical insurance, leaning on a tradition of mutual aid. At one time, that was handled informally when needs arose. Nowadays, as the Amish population has grown and in some ways become more progressive, in some places Amish have more formalized systems such as this one.

The couple sounds confident that their bills will be handled. No doubt that eases one worry at a time of great grief. The family’s loss was huge, but they are still able to be grateful for their daughter who survived.

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    1. Leana A Mari


      One comforting thing when a child dies is that they are in heaven. As hard as it is to lose a child, and the fact that their life is cut short, the bright side is they will not suffer any longer in any way. They are free from all the dangers of this world, which increase daily on every level. They are kept safe in the best place they can be forever. Most never make it to heaven, so this is not to be taken for granted. I could quote a list of Bible verses to prove that. But I know children go to heaven because in the Bible Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is made up of such as these; speaking of children. That is the most comforting thing I could tell them.

    2. K. DiPari

      Pony cart bolts into car.

      It seems Heaven now has two more Angels.
      I agree with Leana: when a child dies, they
      go straight over to Heaven and dwell there
      forever. God is gracious. I am sure the Miller
      family will be together in Heaven again one
      day. RIP Rachel & Samuel. Get well soon
      little Hannah.
      K. DiPari

    3. Terry from Wisconsin

      So sad

      It might seem impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel at the loss of a child to ever diminish or decrease; however, the Lord is our hope and our salvation, and he can turn our mourning into comfort. God wants to encourage us and relieve our suffering if we will just go to him at all times. And his word is powerful enough to bring healing and solace even during our darkest hours.

      When a child dies and comes to the Pearly Gates, Jesus says, What are doing here, I wasn’t looking for you to come to heaven so soon, but as long as you’re here, come on in and join the celebration!

      Safe in Christ always†

    4. Kevin Lindsey

      Such a tragedy but it’s wonderful how the entire community pulled together. I marvel and am inspired by the parent’s attitude. It was fascinating to learn about the Michigan medical board. I knew the community supported families with medical bills, but didn’t know there was an association.