Two children are dead and four injured after a SUV hit a pony cart Monday morning in Middlebury.
Police say a horse pulling two carts was walking onto County Road 24 from a driveway, just as a Ford Expedition was approaching. The SUV hit the horse and first cart, which was carrying four of the six children. All but one of the kids suffered head injuries.
Police say Jenna Miller, 10, died at the scene. Her twin sister, Jeneva, along with Joyce, 9, and Jolisa, 7, were airlifted to a Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. Jolisa later died from her injuries.
Neighbors tell NewsCenter16, Jeneva is starting to respond to stimulus and Joyce has a bruised head, but should recover.
Jared, 4, was airlifted to Bronson Memorial Hospital in Kalamazoo, where neighbors say he may undergo surgery for injuries to his thumb.
As of Wednesday, Jeneva was still listed in critical condition. Jared is in stable condition at Bronson, but he will most likely be transferred to Parkview soon.
Joyce was released from the hospital.
Justin, 5, complained of shoulder pain, but declined medical treatment.
It’s an accident that’s shocked the close-knit Amish community in Middlebury. Lavon Yoder was working nearby when it happened.
“This one kid came running down, ‘Does anybody know CPR?’ One kid says ‘I did’ so we jumped on the truck, run up there. I was there before any EMT was there and they started CPR on the children.”
When Yoder saw the children, some of them the same age as his own sons, he could barely move.
“When I got there, I didn't know what to do,” Yoder said. “I was just, ‘Well, here I am.’”
Yoder says the Miller family has nine children, three weren’t involved in the crash. He says their father, Lonnie, does horseshoeing for Amish families and always takes his kids with him.
“He’s close with the children,” he said.
The Millers attend the Amish school in their neighborhood. Until Monday’s crash, there were 42 students at the one-room schoolhouse. Many of the kids know each other better than their parents do.
“When I got home, I had to take a little break,” Yoder said. “I got five boys and there were three of them here and they were just all sitting there crying.”
But the Amish are a close-knit group who stick together, especially during times of hardship. Within hours of the crash, neighbors had completely cleaned the Miller’s home and prepared it for the upcoming funerals. While the accident is leaving the hearts of many heavy, Yoder says it was all part of God’s plan.
“It was their time to go,” he said. “Now all we can do is pray.”
While some say all six children were too young to operate a cart on a busy road, police say like bicycles, the carts don't require a license or age threshold.
However, Indiana state law does mandate Amish carts follow the same rules as cars.
"We all share the roadways. There are a lot of things going on in society where people are out there living their lives. They have to function, they have to get from point A to point B and there are numerous modes of travel, all the way from foot traffic to semi trucks,” Elkhart County undersheriff Sean Holmes said.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the crash. It could take up to a month to complete.
The driver of the SUV, Kathy Butterfield, wasn’t cited at the scene of the accident.
Here were the latest updates on the six children as of Tuesday night:
Jenna Miller, 10, died at the scene.
Jeneva Miller, 10, the cart's driver, was listed in critical condition.
Jolisa Miller, 7, died Monday night at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne.
Joyce Miller, 9, was listed in fair condition.
Jared, 4, was in critical condition at Bronson Memorial Hospital in Kalamazoo.
Justin, 5, only had minor injuries and declined treatment on the scene.
Funeral arrangement for Jenna and Jolisa were released Tuesday morning, to view them, just click on the Big Red Bar.