Friday, August 19
Sometimes It Is Hard to Know What to Say.
Jasper Amish bury sixth accident victim
By Andrew Poole
Jasper, N.Y. — In a previous news article, a patriarch of the Jasper-Woodhull Amish community, his voice shaking with sadness, put it best: “Another Friday, another coffin, another funeral.”
And so Friday went for the grief-wracked community, forced once again to deal with the death of one of their own. Elva Hershberger, 39, of Highup Road, Jasper died Tuesday, July 26 at Strong Memorial in Rochester, the sixth victim of July 19’s cruel three-car accident in Benton.
Hershberger is the first victim to die since the day of the accident, when five other members of the Amish community, including her husband, Melvin Hershberger Jr., 40, were killed.
Under thick layers of gray clouds and scattered rain drops, friends and family were joined by Amish from other communities in mourning. Many Amish from other communities had just returned home after the July 22 services for Hershberger Jr., Melvin Hostetler, and Anna Mary Byler.
Services started Friday morning at approximately 9 a.m., when family and friends, totalling fewer in number than the July 22 services, gathered in a barn on Waight Road.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m. crowds of five and 10 emerged from the barn and began walking north on State Route 36, past buggies lined around the Hershberger residence, toward the family burial plot.
A row of buggies pulled out of Waight Road onto State Route 36 following the walkers, with an open buggy carrying Hershberger’s body toward the plot, toward her family, toward her husband.
Riding in a van visiting farms near Penn Yan more than a week ago, 13 Amish were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Their van was northbound on Pre-Emption Road when it struck a vehicle driven by Steven Eldridge, of Penn Yan, who was passing a slow-moving tractor in a no-passing zone.
The van then swerved into the southbound lane, colliding with and becoming embedded under the tractor.
All 13 Amish were injured, five were killed, and the drivers of the van, Lyn Oles, and the tractor, Tim Labarr, were injured.
The only person to emerge unscathed: Steven Eldridge, who is facing six counts of criminally negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated, and other charges.
Two of the other Amish passengers injured in the accident, Martha Hostetler and Andy Byler, have been discharged from Strong Memorial. Another passenger, Rose Anna Miller, remains in guarded condition as of Saturday afternoon.
Funds to help the families of those killed or injured in the accident have been established.
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