Funerals Begin Today For Victims Of Amish Van Crash

07.22.11 | Sarah Harnisch

Thousands are expected at the funerals of at least three Amish killed by an alleged drunk driver Tuesday in Yates County. Two others are expected to be buried tomorrow. Friday, services were held in Jasper for 42 year old Melvin Hershberger, 40 year old Melvin Hoestler, and 60 year old Anna Mary Byler. Services will be held in Woodhull on Saturday for 47 year old Sarah Miller -- mother of 14 -- and for 46 year old Elizabeth Mast in Cameron.

The Amish mourners are pouring in from at least three states, and outnumber Jasper and Woodhull's local populations. Emergency officials are doign all they can to make sure they are comfortable, including placing a water tank on Rout 36 so the Amish can water their horses in the intense heat. The New York National Guard in Rochester is sending tents to set up during the funerals -- not for people to rest in overnight, but simply so they have shade to stand in during the services. The town of Prattsburgh sent a refrigerator truck loaded with ice to keep anyone from becoming dehydrated. The American Red Cross has sent tents, and Jasper Troopsburgh High School has been opened for people to sleep in.

Of the seven Amish admitted to area hospitals, five are still being treated. The man believed to be responsible for the crash, Steven Eldridge, is facing five counts of negligent homicide for driving while intoxicated. The court system is starting the progress of hunting people down for a grand jury trial.

If you would like information on how to donate to these families, check the list below. Any cash sent to these Amish relief funds will be directly turned over to the families. We're told their medical bills are astronomical -- far more than they can ever afford.

Donations for Victims:
c/o: Fund for the Amish
- Bullock's Hardward, Jasper, NY, 14855
- Jasper Junction Mini Mart, 3857 State Route 417, Jasper, NY, 14855
- Jasper Town Hall, Jasper NY, 14855