Community Supports Grieving Amish Family; 6-Year-Old Survivor In Stable Condition [Updated]

Both Amish and English members of the Vermontville, Michigan community have come together to support the family who lost three children in a buggy accident Wednesday.

Below we’ve got comments from Amish and English locals. There’s also information if you’d like to send a card or donate money to support this family.

The good news here is that the fourth rider in the buggy – a six-year-old boy, brother of the three children killed – is in stable condition at a hospital in Lansing.

Images: WILX

Henry Detweiler, a member of the Amish community, has lived in the area for nearly four decades. He spoke with Lansing State Journal on the community and its response.

The Amish support system is well-known. The community comes together in times of tragedy to take over chores, food and other responsibilities to lighten the burden of the mourning.

But this is new ground. Detweiler says this is the first time a tragedy of this magnitude has occurred in the community.

We learn in this piece that the settlement is now up to four church districts in size, with 120 families, and two schools. The children had just left their school prior to the accident, pictured below.

Detweiler is the community’s “funeral caretaker”. That means he helps with the services and drives the buggy which transports the casket of the deceased.

He also operates a blacksmith business. Contrary to initial reports, the children were not heading home but were on the way to his business to have their ponies reshod.

His blacksmith shop is less than three miles from the children’s school.

He says that the cart had a blinking warning light. All of the children were wearing bright safety vests.

Detweiler shares news on the six-year-old, who he says is in stable condition: “They figure he’s going to be okay.”

Another report says that the boy has leg and head injuries, but had “a good night.”

English neighbors

You can tell these Amish neighbors are well-appreciated, and even loved by English members of the community.

Eighty-one-year-old Jerry LaMere has been friends with Amish here for decades, and often drives them. He refuses money for his service: “I tell them I’m not in the trucking business. I’m in the friend business.”

I’d bet his Amish friends find ways to show their thanks, maybe with the always-appreciated currency of baked goods and fresh produce. LaMere says he was “devastated” by the news.

The WILX video report below has comments from two other English people in the area.

“I have no words,” says Natalie Sharpes, who also drives for the Amish. “Surreal. Unimaginable.”

A woman named Tamara says it’s “amazing that people are coming from all over to help the Amish community, because they are absolutely amazing here, they are loving, and they’re always here to support us.”

Support the Family

If you’d like to support this family, you can send cards and monetary donations to this address, which is the family’s home address (updated with the name checks should be made out to):

Nelson Miller
5185 N. Ionia Road
Vermontville, MI 49096

Money will help cover the costs of medical bills and burial costs.

They also accept food donations if you are able to drop those off locally. Those can be delivered to Precision Tools in Vermontville from 7 – 8:30 a.m. Please do not send flowers. More details here.

Food will go to feed the family, and for the attendees of the funeral.

One thousand people are expected to attend.

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    1. Marty Evans

      In GOD'S Care

      The pain of losing a child is tuff, but to lose multiple children can seem unbearable. Please now that you will miss them here on earth, but they are in the hands of our HEAVENLY FATHER,and you will see them again one day.

      Love in Christ

      1. Carol A Hogan

        Is this really God's will?

        Amish Buggies? Are the Amish endangering themselves contrary to God’s Word? I know this won’t be particularly popular among even the “English,” but there is something to be said about doing away with Amish Buggies. Our modern roads were not created for buggies. Buggies are slow, and sometimes hard to avoid if one comes around a blind curve. I recently viewed this first hand when visiting my daughter who lives in Amish country. Unless there is a separate lane for slow-moving buggies, perhaps States should outlaw their use. Why do I say that? Because buggies have been nearly suicidal for some Amish. The Bible says, Proverbs 22:3
        The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

        Sadly, a recent accident killed three children in an Amish family:…/ I know how the Amish are fatalistic about such occurrences, however, is it really God’s will for parents to put the lives of their children in jeopardy? Should the Amish be playing “buggy roulette” with the lives of their children?

        Anybody who knows me, knows that I greatly admire all Anabaptists, Mennonites and Amish alike. I realize that the Amish refuse to use cars since cars make linking up with “the English world” much to easy for young people in their “Rumspringa,” or the traditional Amish-sanctioned time when teenagers are allowed to nearly run wild, own cars, etc. Those kids who “survive” Rumspringa and join the Amish religion are said to be given a choice between “the world” and the “Amish.” Some more evangelical groups of Amish, however, reject this Rumspringa concept, and simply don’t allow teenagers to have cars. So, cars aren’t the enemies in those groups, but in those groups which foster “Rumspringa” the car is THE ENEMY. Thus, we see that the choice becomes this: God or the Car?

        But, if one chooses the “buggy,” is that necessarily God’s will? Not if it means sacrificing the safety of your children for roads that are not intended for buggies, and which present a terrible danger to Amish families. Are such accidents really God’s will, or are they simply within His permissive will based on the choices men make?

        Here in Florida we have an Amish community called Pinecraft. You will find no Amish buggies there. In fact, I fail to see, given the free flow of traffic in Florida, how buggies would even be possible. And so the Amish have compromised their “buggy” rule and use tricycles and bikes. Maybe that’s not the safest mode of transportation, but it sure beats being crushed by a speeding motorist. And little kids aren’t transported on tricycles as you can see:…

        There are probably other alternatives too: Buggy lanes, and not allowing buggies on roads without those lanes; State-subsidized transportation, etc. I really don’t know the answer – but I do know this. Three little kids are dead, and that’s not God’s will.

        The Amish buggy is an iconic symbol of Amish lifestyle. And, it won’t be popular to oppose it in any way. But surely the rising cost in human lives to preserve an icon needs to be addressed. There are solutions – and tradition shouldn’t outweigh the lives of kids.

        1. Stephanie Berkey

          Possible Solutions

          I think the Amish have foreseen and hid their selves from a lot of evil which befalls most of society. Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” ~ (Matthew 10:28) It’s evident in many other areas of life that the real problem is our society is heading for hell faster with increasingly less regard for others.
          I agree that it is God’s will to try to find ways to avoid it though, which I’m sure are trying to do. It might be a good idea for the Amish to move to areas where it is less likely to happen. Flat terrain may help, as well as places where people travel slower, in general and / or at least with more caution around buggies (Utah & Idaho). There are still fatal accidents there too though.

    2. Walter Boomsma


      My heart certainly reaches out to this family and the community. One thing that isn’t clear to me is how a check should be made out if being mailed to the home address given… I haven’t read all the stories yet, but if anyone can help with an answer, it would be greatly appreciated.

      1. OSIAH HORST

        Name for cheque

        If you wanted to mail a cheque, you would mail it to Nelson Miller at the address shown above.

        1. Names of the children made public

          Thanks for pointing that out Walter, and Osiah for the additional info. Earlier they hadn’t yet released the names of the children/family, but now it looks like as of some hours ago, they have – as well as the info Osiah shares on addressing donations to Nelson Miller:

          From the article: “Obituaries posted online identify the three children who died in the crash as 13-year-old Caleb Miller, 10-year-old Fannie Miller and 8-year-old Elizabeth Miller.”

          Nelson I assume is the children’s father. I’ve updated the post above.

          1. Walter Boomsma

            Thanks, Osiah and Erik!

            As the saying goes, “The check is in the mail…” I’m afraid I had few words to write with it… just a hope that my heart and hand might my reach across the miles.

            While I certainly agree the Amish should have a role in preventing these sorts of accidents, the reality is that it could have just as easily been a group of kids walking on the side of the road or riding bicycles or scooters. I’ve done a fair amount of driving in areas where buggies are prevalent and I find it very difficult to understand how a driver does not see a buggy. More reflective tape and lights are NOT the answer.

    3. KimH

      So so very sad about these children.
      I can’t even imagine the pain and devistation they feel. They might believe ” it’s God’s will,” but it doesn’t make the pain go away.
      God blessings to the family.

    4. i am not amish however i also grieve

      I did drive to Vermontville and delivered a small check to help the family and community. As I read about this horrid tragedy, one thing stands out to me. This was not the fault of the kids! Now with that said. Apparently there are Amish communities that feel they do not have to abide by recommended lighting/signage on their vehicles due to certain beliefs. Yet they expect the local authorities to be there with all their high tech equipment to clean up the mess. Think about what those poor emergency responders must see! This is ridiculous. No one is trying to destroy your way of life. PLEASE do everything to make your means of transportation as visible as humanely possible! How can you justify not doing such a simple thing???
      Finally, there is absolutely no reason for these kind of tragic things happen. It’s a problem thru out this country. It’s a problem of the driving public being way too distracted and not paying attention! Those who commit these infractions should be penalized severally as a deterrent to others.
      GOD bless these families.

    5. Stephanie Berkey


      I’m so sorry to hear about this. I also hope there is more done to prevent these accidents, without infringing on their religion. I hope the Amish will warn and instruct their people more on English habits and laws, so they won’t have English imposing it their way. I have a brother who died in an accident and know it is a deep loss. God bless this family.