Community’s Mothers Help Amish Baby After Accident (Updated)

I hadn’t seen a story like this before.

On Saturday night, a likely-impaired driver struck an Amish buggy in Ethridge, Tennessee.

The crash sent a baby and her parents to the hospital.

The baby was treated and released. But the parents remain in Nashville.

This has left the little girl in a difficult situation. And the community has stepped up.

I’m not sure if these are Amish or non-Amish mothers (or both), as it’s not said.

From Fox 17 Nashville:

Parents Henry and Caroline Gingerich from Ethridge were airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where they remain in stable condition. Their child was treated and released, returning to Lawrence County.

Without its mother, the baby girl was not responding well to formula. Unsure of what to do, the family reached out to the midwife that helped bring the baby girl into the world back in September.

Certified Professional Midwife Stacie Smith-Hunt of Lawrence County jumped into action, asking mothers in the community for breast milk donations.

Local moms did their part:

Not only did they answer the call for help, the Lawrence County mothers gave nearly 1,500 oz. of breast milk within just 24 hours.

”I had no doubt that these women would be more than willing to help. We have a very strong and supportive homebirth and breastfeeding community,” Smith-Hunt said. “But I am in awe at how quickly they responded and how generous they have been.”

So far at least 13 mothers have donated, but so many more have asked what they can do.

“Lots of prayers,” Smith-Hunt replied. “We are also still taking donations for milk and storing it for them for long term future use.”

Looks like the baby will be covered. Nice response!

Highway 43 & Buggy Visibility

I made two visits to this community last week. I was actually there Saturday evening, leaving some hours before the accident occurred.

Here’s a buggy traveling down Highway 43, the road where the accident occurred.

It’s a busy 4-lane highway, though there is a buggy-sized shoulder. The speed limit is 45 mph.

To be more visible, Amish buggies in the area are now carrying sections of PVC pipe, covered with reflective tape.

These are attached to the outside of one wheel. They create an oscillating effect as the wheel turns.

Here’s a grainy image of what it looks like:

I find it quite attention-getting at night.

But that wasn’t enough to protect this family.

Kudos to the local moms who’ve helped this Amish baby, as she waits for her own mother to return home.

Update (Feb. 6)

WKRN has put out a video report filling out more details:

Looks like this was an English initiative promoted through social media networks, with response coming from as far away as NY. Great job and nice to see when English and Amish communities come together for positive things like this.

The baby’s parents, Henry and Caroline Gingerich (24 and 23 years old respectively) continue to recover in the hospital.

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    1. KimH

      Breast milk donation

      This is a really wonderful story.. I’ve heard of others like this.. Many mother’s who breastfeed freeze some for times they’re away from their baby and usually have more on hand than they’ll ever use.. donating to someone in need is a common way to use it up. My daughter donated some of hers several times. There is a whole culture of young women out there who participate in events like this. It’s wonderful.

      1. I had no idea this kind of thing existed, but good for them that it does. I read another article on it today which I didn’t catch yesterday and which suggested it was probably a non-Amish network that contributed since word was spread on social media. There was even mention of someone in New York “reaching out” which I don’t know if it means donating or not.

    2. Randy

      Uplifting Kindness; Transportation-Related Government Failure

      Great post, Eric. As so often happens, reading your blog really brightened my day – it is so good to see your frequent focus on acts of kindness.

      Regarding the unfortunate accident, I’m mindful that it’s considered likely that the driver was somehow impaired. But in light of the photos you shared, it seems likely that the setting itself is a dangerous problem. If that is an area where buggies are commonly used, then motorized traffic is being permitted to go too fast and local officials have failed to do a good job for the community if the buggy portion of the traffic is expected to use the shoulder of the road.

      The 45 mph speed limit prompted a couple of thoughts: first, that the performance of modern vehicles has lulled many drivers into forgetting that 45 mph is not actually a slow speed and that they’re covering a lot more distance every second than it feels like. Similarly, I know a lot if younger drivers who regard going 80 or 85 mph with about the same regard as I think I had for 60 mph about 50 years ago…and given modern engineering and on certain limited access highways, I well understand and agree with that viewpoint (indeed, when traveling on business in Germany, I took utter delight in running at 150 mph on certain stretches of the autobahn). Second, I’m betting most drivers are driving at least 50 mph (and some faster) in that zone.

      Eric, I know you’ve had the experience of riding in a buggy while being passed by cars, but for anyone who has not, it’s hard to imagine just how fast and how close it feels when traffic is flying by. It’s simply too close. It troubles me that our public roads are inadequate for the task of safely accommodating all manner of transportation customarily used in a locale. Especially when we’re prepared to readily spend considerable sums to build a lot of lane space to improve the safety conditions for (and to prevent inconvenient delays that would otherwise result from) motorized vehicles making left-hand turns. It’s not that I disapprove of those lane improvements – I think they are valuable and worthwhile. But community leaders that don’t make it possible for (and direct the action to be taken by) transportation departments to provide safe (with adequate separation) infrastructure for all transport used in the community have failed to fulfill their duty to represent the entire community.

      1. I’m happy to share good news when it’s out there:) Glad you appreciate it too.

        Interestingly, they very recently (December) reduced speeds on that Highway 43 from 55 to 45 mph. Law enforcement actually used a creative way to emphasize the new speed to the public, pulling people over who were going the correct speed and giving them grocery gift cards:

        I’m not sure how I’d feel about getting pulled over even for this reason, but at least those drivers we can assume left those encounters with a smile.

        I think 45 is fast compared to buggy speeds, but pretty standard for this type of highway, I would even say on the slow side. Would a further reduction to 35 help? I have to think it would make things safer. Maybe this is part of a gradual ratcheting down of speeds. After all, there exist many many speed trap towns across this country (I assume some of them are for local revenue purposes; doing the same for safety for an important segment of the local population seems reasonable, don’t you think?)

        The Amish here have a not bad situation though with the full buggy width shoulders, which is not something you see in all places Amish buggies travel on these highways. They’ve been around since the 1940s, and it’s a sizeable settlement, so it would make sense that they’d have those. I think I’d be less excited about turning or crossing all 4-5 lanes and having someone flying through at 60+ out of nowhere. You are right about the sensation of speed when in a buggy when someone whips by you even at what we would consider relatively low speeds. It can be unnerving though i guess you have to get used to it if you are an Amish buggy driver or rider.

        Good points on speed though, and especially with modern cars…I think it is easier to reach high speeds and not even have the same sensation of traveling at such a high speed due to the quality of the driving experience (for instance, lower wind noise due to better design compared to cars of 30-40 years ago).

        One other positive I see is the adoption of the PVC visibility enhancement. I was happy to see this apparently becoming the norm in this community, even if it looks a little weird (one Amishman I spoke with said someone described it as having 2 beer cans stuck to the wheel :)).