Like any other morning I got my cup of coffee and turned on my computer. I saw that there had been a shooting at West Nickel Mines Amish School and that at the time five girls had been killed. I re-read what little they had at the time, and called my friend Eli (named changed) as he is Bishop of a local Amish settlement. When I got him on the phone and told him what happened, he told me that things like that happened in the English Schools but not in the Amish Schools. I read him what was on the computer and still he thought my computer was wrong.
After he hung up from me, he tried to call several relatives and Bishops in the area of West Nickel Mine Schools that he knew, but got no answer. Finally he got an Amish relative of his that lived in the area and told him it was true. Shortly another Bishop from down there called Eli and asked him if he could come down, and that he would be needed. He explained to Eli what had happened and that girl children were killed and some were dying.
Eli tried to get reservations on a bus to Pennsylvania, but I guess news had spread fast as all the buses were full. Finally Eli hooked up his buggy and came to our house to see what was the latest on the computer. When Eli said he had to get there my wife and I agreed to take him and his wife down. We packed and left within the hour. Being Eli is bishop, and I am a minister we agreed we had to be back for services on Sunday.
It took us a little over 6 hours to get down there from New York State. When we arrived, we took the ladies to a home of an Amish couple that a Bishop had arranged for us to stay with. Eli and I were going to meet one of the Bishops and tried to drive by the school on the way, but the police had it blocked off. We went to a hospital to meet the Bishop who was a friend of Eli’s of many years-in fact they had gone to school together as children.
Over coffee he told us what had happened. How the man had come to the school and let all the boys and the teacher leave, but kept the girls-and what had happened after that. They were still checking hospitals to find what girl was in what hospital, Now a days there is a rule in hospitals of not telling if someone is there-they ignored that rule-as many of the girls couldn’t talk. Some girls went to hospitals, but the hospitals didn’t know who they were and parents were looking for their daughters but didn’t know what hospital they were in. Bishop Eric (not real name) told us that the press was everywhere.
They were at the hospitals, at the school, at houses and more-trying to get news. Most were very nice and stayed out of the way-but some were not. Eric had a cell phone that he found out one of his grandson’s had and was receiving calls on it. One call came through that there were two girls in a hospital pretty far a way , and they needed some one to take their parents there. Eli and I picked them up and took them to the hospital. We stayed with them until someone from their settlement came with them. The people (Amish) were in shock, but they believed that it was God’s will.
By the time we got back to where Bishop Eric was, the police were there. They wanted to talk with anyone that they could get information from. It really was in vain as the parents didn’t know all that had happened and none of the girls could talk at that time. People would talk to Eric or Eli, but I stayed most or less in the background. I was there if they needed, but Amish people hadn’t seen me before and were kind of reserved but nice, kind as they could be in this situation-but reserved.
It seemed like one child was passing (dying) one after another. One couple had one daughter in the hospital Eric was at and found out that they had another daughter at another hospital. The father was on his way to the second hospital when they word came that the daughter had passed. Eric broke the news to the Mother. The Father found out at the hospital and returned to be with his wife.
Amish were also there. Family members and friends were there to be with the families, They were not left alone. At every hospital the Amish came. One of the nurses couldn’t believe how reserved the Amish were at the passing of their children. They didn’t cry or carry on like Englishers would. Eli told her that they will not show emotion at the hospital, that is not their way. But when they get home they will cry just like the nurse would if it were her child. They also believe that it is God’s will and their children are going to a better place.
Eli and I didn’t get to the house and bed to well after midnight. We hadn’t eaten and the people offered us food, but we weren’t hungry and couldn’t eat. We all went to bed and tried to get some slept, My wife told me the next morning that I shook in my sleep all night long. I didn’t remember it, all I remember is that I dreamed about going from hospital to hospital and seeing those children.
Be with God. Bob
Part 2: next Friday