Say they ‘felt privileged to be able to help’ –
By Patricia Beech –
A West Union farmer who was recently accidentally trapped beneath a piece of farming equipment is recuperating at home, thanks to a group of local Amish children who responded to his cries for help.
The children of John and Amelia Yoder – Levi, Lydia, Moses, and Junior, and the children of Aaron and Sarah Hershberger – Levi, Barbara, and Eli, say the incident took them all by surprise.
“We were on our way home from school when we heard someone call for help,” says 11-year-old Lydia Yoder. “At first, we weren’t sure what to do because we aren’t allowed on that farm, but someone needed help, so the boys went to see who it was.”
Upon investigating, they found their neighbor, Kent DeAtley, trapped beneath a cattle hay feeder that had tipped over, pinned his leg to the ground, and left him exposed to frigid weather conditions.
“He didn’t have his cell phone,” says Yoder. “The boys ran to get it for him, then he called 911 and asked for Air Care.”
The children waited with DeAtley until emergency crews arrived at the scene.
Yoder says it “all happened in such a whirl.”
“There were four police cars, two life squads, and one fire truck,” she says. “We just watched it all. We watched everything from when the helicopter appeared until it disappared.”
Amelia Yoder said she believes the incident turned out to be a positive experience for the children.
“It made them feel good in their hearts that they could do something for God,” she said. “They felt privileged to be able to help.”
While the doctrine of separation is a major religious tenet in Amish culture, Mrs. Yoder says she believes cultural differences, not doctrine, made the children hesitate momentarily before walking past the “No Trespassing” signs that border the DeAtley farm.
“I think it made it a little harder, but like my daughter said, “the need was there, someone was screaming for help” – and they wanted to help, but they hesitated – should we or shouldn’t we – then Lydia told them, “Go! He needs help.”
In an essay written shortly after the incident, Lydia wrote, “I never thought the day would end like this, it was enough to put a sick feeling in my stomach for the rest of the evening.”
Days later, DeAtley met with the families to express his appreciation and give the children thank- you gifts.
“He was very appreciative,” Mr. Hershberger said of the meeting. “If the children hadn’t been passing by that day, things might have turned out very differently.”