Former Marine Saved Amish 2-Year-Old In Van Crash

Of the ten people involved in the Amish van accident last week, only one survived – an approximately two-year-old Amish boy named Micah Schrock. Not long after, an account emerged of how the boy made it through the catastrophic wreck in west-central Wisconsin.

A former Marine named Nathaniel Jahn was fortunately on the scene right as the accident happened. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The semitrailer driver swerved hard to try and avoid hitting the van, Jahn said, but only had a second to react. It wasn’t even long enough time to apply the brakes.

The truck slammed into the van. Nine people, including both drivers, were killed. Seven of the victims were members of an Amish community in Virginia, visiting family in Wisconsin.

Nathaniel Jahn via CBS 58/YouTube

Jahn rushed to the vehicles, and from under the wreckage of the truck he heard a whimper that turned into a cry.

It was a little boy, the only survivor of the horrific crash. He had been thrown from the van.

He pulled the boy out from the wreckage and got him to safety. The boy, Micah Schrock, was expected to be released from a Marshfield hospital to family members arriving from Virginia.

There was a young woman, barely alive, next to the boy.

Jahn tried to come back for her and any others he could rescue, but there was nothing else he could do. Police had arrived and kept him back. The wreckage was too much and the van burst into flames.

After serving two tours with the Marines in Iraq, Jahn, of Neillsville, said he never thought he would see anything like this at home.

Thank goodness Jahn was there and might have been just the person, given his background, to respond in the way he did to quite possibly save this little boy’s life. “I think God put me there for a reason,” says Jahn.

Memorial crosses near the accident site. Image: Rick Barrett/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jahn gave further details in another report at CBS 58:

“Through the debris, I noticed the bodies,” Nathaniel Jahn said.

During his morning commute on Friday, March 8, Jahn approached State Highway 95 and County Highway J in the Town of Dewhurst and witnessed a crash he said replays in his mind daily.

“The semi collided with the van and sent the van sailing down the road,” he said. “I started running toward them and realized the van had started on fire.”

While trying to help the passengers, he heard a whimper. Jahn found 2-year-old Micah Schrock, who had been ejected from the van, underneath the rubble.

“He was crying,” he explained. “I just took my sweatshirt off, wrapped him, tried to keep him warm.”

Jahn has been able to visit with Micah, which has helped the former Marine:

While the community prepares to say goodbye to the lives lost, Jahn got to say hello to Micah, who is now with his grandparents, on Monday.

“He’s fussy, but he’s eating and drinking and vocal, and that did my heart, warms me right over to see him,” Jahn said.

Jahn said seeing the 2-year-old safe is helping him cope with the trauma of this tragedy.

“I’m happy I got Micah. I’m happy I got him safe to his family, and it’s not a total loss,” he said.

In addition to the seven Amish who lost their lives, both the semi truck driver, Daniel Liddicoat, and van driver James McCoy perished. The names and ages of the victims have been released:

Daniel Liddicoat, 51
James McCoy, 46
Linda Byler, 44
Lydia Byler, 24
Orlah Schrock, 24
Ellen Schrock, 23
Delilah Schrock, 21
Suzanna Hertzler, 18
Judy Rose Schrock, 6 months old

Cause of the accident?

Jahn also describes what he saw happen:

When Nathaniel Jahn pulled up to the intersection of State 95 and County Road J, in Clark County, he could hardly believe what happened next.

The driver of a passenger van turned right into the path of a semitrailer truck hauling a tankerload of milk east on the highway.

The semitrailer driver swerved hard to try and avoid hitting the van, Jahn said, but only had a second to react. It wasn’t even long enough time to apply the brakes.

No official assessment has been given by authorities investigating the crash, other than very general statements like this one on March 11th from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office: “It’s believed the semi-tractor was eastbound on STH 95 and the van was northbound on CTH J. The van entered the intersection and was struck by the semi on its driver’s side.”

The driver of the semi truck, Daniel Liddicoat, also died in the collision. Image: NBC News

Jahn has given a single account, but probably the only witness account that we have, and there’s no reason to doubt what he describes. However, there may be other factors at play.

It may very well be that driver error on the part of the van driver was the contributing or sole cause. But there are other factors that may or may not be knowable, such as the visibility conditions, speed of the semi, and other technical factors which could have influenced the crash.

I understand the impulse to want to know the cause of such a tragic accident. And based on Jahn’s account, it appears that the van pulled in front of the semi, so fingers point towards the van driver.

However, as nine lives were lost, it would be good to pause until as full an assessment as possible comes in from the professionals tasked to investigate these types of things. It’s also good to keep in mind there are probably things we can never know about what led to this collision, as the only one who went through it and came out alive is just a toddler.

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Join the Amish America Patreon for bonus videos & more!

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply to Rod Cancel reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    7 Comments

    1. Debbie

      My condolences

      So tragic. May all RIP. Thank God the little boy was saved! In Jesus name, Amen.

    2. Kim Pulliam

      Amish van accident

      My deepest condolences to the families of all involved. Thankful, that little Micah was spared by God above. Thankful that the marine was there to help rescue that baby. Prayers for him also. No doubt the images that he seen that day will remain with him for a long time. You sir, were placed there by God to lend help until others could arrive. May you be blessed through out your life. My heart breaks for little Micah, having lost his parents and other family members. It’s comforting to know that he is with his grandparents during this time.

    3. john

      Truck accident

      It reminds me back in the 1980’s there was a jet airplane crash outside Detroit Metro Airport and all passengers lost their lives except one little girl who by the grace of God survived the crash. Fortunately they are young enough not to have the mental scars to remember the crash. We need to continue to pray for the little boy and for the families of all the lost persons. On a side note if you ask a Marine who served he will tell you he is not an ex-Marine they will tell you once a Marine always a Marine.

    4. Liz Bourgeois

      Tragedy

      Oh my heart is so heavy reading this story. As the wife of a Marine who served in Iraq, Mr. Kahn was the best person who could have come upon a scene like this. With the devastating loss of life, it is good to hear of at least one survivor. Prayers for both of the communities and the family left to grieve. Just such a tragedy…

    5. Tracy

      Amish Van Accident

      As i lay in bed tonight reading about this tragic accident i have tears rolling down my face. I live in Manchester, IA. And has many know a little over a year ago the Delhi community went thru a similar tragedy. Even tho i was not driving the van that morning of that accident the van was registered to myself. And the guilt i feel everyday is sometimes unbearable. But i want Jahn to know yes God put him there for a reason, most definitely. And if you ever need someone to talk day or night to look myself or my husband up we are there for you. Its hard to deal with daily.

      1. Cause it accident

        I am so sorry for what you are going through, the guilt and sorrow. Even the Amish will tell you that it was God’s will. I choose to believe that also. I have to believe that.

        I remember when this happened, but I never saw what they decided the cause of the accident was. Was there any more news about that? Like the wreck that happened recently, so many weren’t in seatbelts. I don’t understand why the drivers don’t insist on car seats and seat belts being worn. My 20 year old son, Colton, who was an EMT and fireman and knew better than most how important they are, was killed in a wreck because he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt! Not even 2 miles from our house.

    6. Rod

      Hours of service.

      Often drivers for the Amish are pushed into make a very long distance in one day. Of course that saves on lodging costs, food, and driver pay. I’ve seen people leave at 3 a.m. and arrive at 10 p.m. That leaves a very tired driver, and that tiredness can last for days. Tired drivers make mistakes. Sometimes big mistakes. So I’d like to know how long this driver was in service, The days before this happened.