Eight children were left without parents after the family buggy was rear-ended Sunday in central Virginia. From the AP:
FARMVILLE — A Farmville man died Monday, a day after his wife was killed and their eight children were injured when their Amish horse-drawn buggy was rear-ended in Cumberland County, according to state police.
The buggy was traveling south on Cumberland Road before 8 p.m. Sunday with 10 family members on board when it was hit by a southbound Toyota Tundra, state police said in a news release. The pickup truck continued but returned a short time later, police said.
Barbie Esh, 38, of Farmville died at the scene; her husband, 39-year-old John Esh, was taken to a hospital, where he died Monday, police said. Their eight children, ages 9 months to 16 years, were taken to hospitals for treatment and two have been released.
Police initially said the horse was euthanized, but now say the horse survived its injuries. The buggy was equipped with the required “slow moving vehicle” placard and had working headlights and taillights, police said.
This community has families in both Cumberland and neighboring Buckingham County though Farmville itself lies in a neighboring county. It’s been a growing community in recent years, founded in 2016 by Amish from Lancaster County.
When I visited this community in 2019 I noticed a decent number of buggy warning signs in the area. But I’m not sure, really, how much good those actually do. Most Amish buggy accidents, like this one, are caused by local drivers who are well aware that they live around Amish people.
Last year, 15 Amish were injured in this community, though none fatally, in another crash.
There have been cases in the past when both parents in large Amish families have been killed, leaving behind young children. Ten years ago, twelve children were orphaned following a deadly accident in New York which claimed both parents’ lives. They were later adopted by a childless uncle and aunt from another state.
Neighbors and community in the Farmville area and beyond are there to help, including by setting up a GoFundMe for the children, in part at least to cover their medical expenses and their parents’ funeral costs. From NBC12:
Bryan knew Barbie and John Esh, along with their eight kids – often driving the kids to school.
She brings up the sad fact that the family was about two minutes from home when their buggy was struck from behind by a pickup truck.
“Some of the firefighters walked the horse from the scene to the barn. That’s how close they were to home,” Bryan said.
But as 400 people are expected to visit the area to pay their respects to victims, Bryan and other family friends take on the task of catering to those who are traveling hundreds of miles, most by buggy “from New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and even from Kentucky.”
Bryan is asking for help on social media – food and funds – to cater to the incoming guests.
She is offering to pick up non-perishables and other items. She is also getting help from the Cumberland Fire Department.
In the meantime, she says the children will each be assigned a caretaker, while still living together at their home.
“Five people have gone to VCU as of this morning to be trained on how to care for the children at home with their injuries,” Bryan said.
But despite all the support, Bryan says the kids only want one thing.
“‘My life would be perfect if I had my parents,’” one of the daughters told her.
The funeral is today. The detail above that most are coming hundreds of miles by buggy from other states is clearly an error. They will not be coming by buggy.
There are actually two GoFundMe fundraisers that I’ve found. This one is to cover medical and funeral expenses, and this one is to pay off the remaining mortgage of the family’s farm. The latter was started yesterday and has already amassed over $100,000. It includes the photo below, which I must assume is of the children in hospital.
The obituary of John M. and Barbara S. Esh is here.
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