Amish Man Permanently Blinded After Teens Throw Eggs at Buggies (UPDATED)

An Amishman in the Geauga County, Ohio settlement has permanently lost vision in one eye after teens hurled an egg at his buggy. This was apparently part of a spree in which they threw dozens of eggs at different buggies. From Fox8:

GEAUGA COUNTY (WJW) — Geauga County sheriff officials charged four teens with assault after an Amish man was hit in the face with an egg, causing him to lose vision in one eye.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said the victim was in an Amish buggy around 9:45 p.m. May 25 on Bundysburg Road when someone inside a pickup truck threw an egg at him.

Image: Fox 8

The man was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. He was told he has permanently lost vision in his one eye, the sheriff said.

“The four juveniles threw over five dozen eggs at Amish buggies,” the sheriff said. “What somebody probably thought was a prank ended up costing somebody their eyesight.”

The video report goes into greater detail, with the sheriff explaining that they first turned on their brights, then threw an egg into the buggy as they passed by, striking the Amishman, who was riding with his wife, in his left eye.

So, (and this isn’t any sort of excuse) of course the teens probably weren’t out there trying to cause serious injury. But there is a perception of the Amish as “other” – ie, “different”, not like “us”, “backward” or other pejoratives – that leads to them being dehumanized in some people’s eyes.

Image: Fox 8

And that leads to things like vandalism against Amish property or terrorizing Amish individuals like this becoming a pathetic form of sport or entertainment for some people.

Amish have been the subject of abuse from non-Amish (and in some cases, Amish-raised youth) in many instances. For example, throwing water bottles at Amish children from a car, an Amish horse killed in a drive-by shooting, or an Amish girl shot in the face with a BB gun, to name just a few recent cases. So throwing objects at Amish buggies is nothing new…

A tragic echo

This egg-throwing incident recalls a similar case that led to even greater tragedy in the late 1970s. The story is recounted in a book compiled by John A. Hostetler called Amish Roots: A Treasury of History, Wisdom, and Lore.

In “Baby Adeline”, Simon M. Schwartz tells the story of an incident in the Adams County, Indiana community. Levi and Rebecca Schwartz, along with their seven children, were returning home one summer evening by buggy when they found themselves the targets of four teens out looking for “fun”. In this case the boys in the truck threw bricks, not eggs. And when the buggy arrived home, the parents noticed that their infant daughter Adeline had been struck, and killed.

Four area youths were charged with reckless homicide. Schwartz recounts that the reaction of the teens “was one of shock and remorse. ‘We had no idea we had injured, let alone killed, someone,’ they said. ‘We were just out for a little fun.’

A “little fun” of the senseless variety can lead to very bad things.  In that case, an incensed public demanded justice. Yet in the end the boys were given only suspended sentences.

Simon Schwartz cites a letter which likely worked in their favor. The letter was written by a bishop and endorsed by baby Adeline’s parents.  “We believe that the four boys have suffered, and suffered heavily, since the crime,” the letter read, “and they have more than paid for what they did. Sending the defendants to prison would serve no good purpose, and we plead for leniency for them.”

I use the opportunity to recall this story to demonstrate that this type of thing against the Amish is not new. And the Amish have on more than one high-profile occasion demonstrated that they often respond with forgiveness and compassion, even in the face of awful circumstances.

However, I recount this not to suggest that the perpetrators in this egg-throwing case should not face punishment, or that the Amish victim(s) in this case ought to act similarly to the Schwartzes. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I had lost vision in one eye due to a mindless “prank” like this one. The youth “are expected in court soon to face the charges.”

UPDATE: More details on the story via the Geauga County Maple Leaf:

“We started investigating it and we heard some rumors,” Hildenbrand said. “Our detectives went out and viewed some video from different stores of people buying large quantities of eggs, got some names, did some follow up. They ultimately found out that these kids had purchased seven dozen eggs from the Dollar General in Huntsburg and were throwing them at the Amish.”

He added the four teenagers, all from Middlefield and ages 15 and 16, are Yankees who attend Cardinal Schools.

“Since the story got out, we’ve got two more victims,” Hildenbrand said. “One guy was hit in the face with two eggs. He was in an open cart and the other guy was in a buggy, and they threw a whole dozen eggs at him. Same day and same area.”

The Amish man in the open cart was temporarily blind in one eye, but has regained his vision, the sheriff said. The third Amish man hit with the eggs was not injured.

“Yankees” is the local Amish word for “English” (non-Amish people). The article notes that the youth could be charged with a hate crime.

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    14 Comments

    1. Nadege

      Bullies

      These teenagers are bullies and ought to be harshly punished. Harshly because it may prevent others from performing these life-altering and “mindless” pranks.

      I can’t imagine the pain they have caused this family by the loss of a member’s vision in one eye. And it isn’t just the eye, other Amish may become fearful and anxious because bored teens may be looking to have a “little fun”. Apparently this incident of targeting the Amish isn’t isolated. This to me IS truly a hate crime and punishment need to be meted out.

    2. john

      lost eye

      Instead of having them serve time for the lost eye maybe they should be made to serve community service time by having to help the gentleman who lost his eye. I recently could not use my left eye because of an eye stroke and had to wear an eye patch over the left eye.. I was able to still drive and do things but I had to keep turning my head to look to the left. Maybe with the youths having to help the gentleman they will become more tolerant of the Amish and learn to forgive

    3. Jennifer sword

      Looks like hate crime to me. Maybe these boys need some manual labor and to learn a little respect….losing their transportation. A good start

    4. K. D.

      Amishman loses sight

      I just cried when I read this story. There is simply no excuse for
      what these boys have done. Taking away their car keys or their
      driver’s licenses won’t solve anything because if people want to
      drive, they WILL find a way to do so. I’m all for sending them to
      jail, then having them help the Amish family affected by this most
      senseless act. I’m glad the Amish are willing to forgive, but I just
      couldn’t. The Amish are better than I could ever be. ‘Nuff said.

      1. daisy

        These boys have ruined this poor man’s life. They’ve got to be punished severely. Pranks are acts of violence. The victim is frightened or humiliated at the very least. At worst they are physically harmed.

        1. Ann the Least

          Changed but not ruined

          The man who is now blind in one eye has a changed life, not a ruined life. I am in favor of having the teens spend hundreds of hours helping the man so they will learn what it means to have a disability.

    5. Norman

      The juveniles may have thought it was fun but people need to understand and respect The Amish their good god fearing people, they bother no one . I know The Amish don’t want to punish the kids but there has to be punishment for these crimes. These criminals and that’s what they are need at least 3 to 5 years in jail . These kind of things has been going on for years to these people, it’s time to make and example out of them . It’s cause by the parents not doing their goods raising them

    6. FRANK

      PUNISH THE TEENS

      I THINK THAT THEY SHOULD GET 15 YEARS IN PRISON TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY DID AND TO SET AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS.

    7. john

      losing an eye

      I left an earlier comment about them serving community service to the gentleman and granted they do deserve it but if you send them to jail/prison for a period of time will it really help them to become stronger men or just learn more tricks of the criminal world. If you read articles about prison life they come out with more bad than good ideas. We as a society need to teach them to write from wrong

      1. Ann the Least

        Agree on helping

        I have known people who were sent to juvenile hall and it did not make them better or more responsible, just more sly and crafty. I think the teens should work for the man for free for a long time to teach them what it means to have a disability.

    8. I’ve updated the post above with more info from the Geauga County Maple Leaf. So at least two others were hit. Another Amishman was temporarily blinded in one eye but recovered his vision. The teens were ages 15 and 16 and may be charged with a hate crime.

    9. Kate

      This is so incredibly disturbing. So senseless and hateful. Will it be charged as a hate crime? I hope prosecutors seek a maximum sentence.

    10. Shelley

      This is awful

      I live in Geauga Co. , and the town where this happened I was shocked when I heard this happened. I love my Amish neighbors and friends. Unfortunately I also know of the boys who did this as they go to school with my children. I was really surprised to hear one of them was x-Amish. I don’t know what they received I do know one just got out of juvenile detention center. I really think they should have gotten longer time in there and hopefully they all get hundreds of community service time. I also think that their parents should be held responsible in some way, they are the ones who raised little …
      My heart sinks when I think what if there was a small infant in one of those buggies and my prayers go out to the families that were harmed in their thoughtless act.

    11. So sad...

      Hey Erik, my brother used to live in Geauga County. I could not imagine my brother, if he knew about this, allowing it. My brother is flawed, certainly, but he believes in justice. Anyway, as someone whose vision is getting worse, he has my prayers, as do the kids that did this. I am actually a survivor of the Graniteville train disaster (where nine people were killed), and have had damage to my eyes ever since then. I just don’t know what else to say. I want to say “shame on the kids”, but, more importantly, I want them to be thinking about what they did wrong. I know this article is from a few months ago from what I write this, but, shame on me, I haven’t been on here very often.