Mennonite family killed in Hart County wreck laid to rest

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

MARROWBONE, KY (WAVE) - Funeral services are held March 30 for nine victims of the deadly March 26 crossover crash in Hart County. 11 people were killed when a when a tractor-trailer veered across an interstate median and struck a van carrying a Kentucky Mennonite family to a wedding in Iowa.

Thousands of family members, friends and complete strangers came to Marrowbone for the joint funeral service for members of the Esh family. Among the mourners were the Eshes sons who had been working in Brazil on a mission trip, the Mennonite Disaster Service from Lancaster, PA, and a family from South Dakota.

The amount of people that came is overwhelming to say the least," said Michael Kaufman, a family member. "I happen to be one of the coordinators here and I was not expecting this big of a crowd."

There were eight caskets for the nine bodies. The youngest of the victims, two-month-old Jalen, was placed inside the same casket as his mother Naomi, resting at her feet.

"Obviously, we can see they are in a better place than we are today," Kaufman said. "That's something we are very thankful for."

4,000 people filled the former factory building where the funeral was held. The number of mourners required an overflow room. After the service, we spoke with Norene Riddle, a neighbor of Sadie and John Esh.

"It was so overwhelming," said Riddle. "And it touched everybody. You could tell."

Eight hearses made the one mile trip to the cemetery, John and Sadie, their children and grandchildren were buried next to another son who died four years ago in a snowmobile accident.

"I think it's very nice, it's been touching, but, uh, I feel like this is the way it should be ... families to stay together."

The tiny community of Marrowbone opened their homes to house those who came in for the funeral.

Funeral services were held March 29 for the 10th victim in the van, 22-year-old Ashlie Kramer of Franklin, KY. Services for the semi driver, 45-year-old Kenneth Laymon, will be held in his hometown of Alexandria, AL.

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