April 21, 2011 by travelingsole
Last week Rick’s family mourned his death and celebrated his brother’s wedding. Last week was one of the saddest weeks of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that many tears. I kept thinking I wonder where Rick is right now. Last Christmas when I talked to Rick he wanted to make some changes in his life. Chet talked to his mom the Sunday before he died. He told her that he was ready to make some changes in his life. The Amish tradition is when you turn 16 you enter Rumspringa. You are expected to go wild. Party. Experience the world. Of course parents discourage it in some ways but to some extent it is just the expected thing. Eventually they usually come back. Clean up their lives and join the church. But Rick and Chet were still in that party age. We hope but we don’t know. It makes me think of all the people I know that aren’t saved. They don’t know their Savior. Why am I sitting here in my comfortable world? Why am I not telling people the truth about the end of their lives? Why aren’t we pushing people to change their lives? Why am I not changing my life?
Richard Allen Helmuth – February 27, 1993 – April 10,2011
Chester Allen Detweiler 17 years old ? – April 10, 2011
There were 2500 people at the viewing Monday. 2000 Tuesday. 1500 at the funeral Wednesday. The rough figure is 3000-4000 people all together. The moms were cousins so there was a lot of family and friends in common. They had a double funeral. Each night at the viewings they would have the youth from the area come and sing. They arrived around 8. They filed in by the hundreds. 450 each night. They sang for an hour and then filed back out past the family and the caskets. When they were filing by the caskets it was so quiet. There were 2000 people there but the only sounds were footsteps and sniffles. A sea of faces and only a few dry eyes.
It was an Amish funeral so there were no cameras. But thanks to a telephoto lens we have a few pictures.
Rick’s family looking on as they load his casket into the “hearse”. Amish have funeral processions to the burial site. The family follows immediately after in order of age. Non-Amish family members ride in the buggies or follow behind the procession in their cars.
Most of Rick’s immediate family. L to R Grandpa Kuhns, Grandpa Helmuth, Loretta (sis-in-law), LaVera (girlfriend), Dennis (brother), Christy (brother), Jonathan (brother), Karen (sis-in-law), Wilbur (brother), preacher, Clara (mom), and brother Ed that got married on Friday. Please pray for LaVera.
Chet’s family arriving at the cemetery. L to R – Reuben (brother), Diane (Reuben’s girlfriend), Amanda (sister), Verna (sister), Chester (dad), Mandy (mom), Rebecca (sister), Fannie Mae (sister), and Daniel (bro-in-law). The little girl with Mandy is her niece.
Rick’s parents. Melvin and Clara. Please pray for them when you think of them.
There are a lot of what ifs surrounding this accident. If they had gone to bed like they were told. If the parents had taken the keys. If they would have waited til the next morning to go get gas. If they hadn’t woken up. If he wouldn’t have been an inexperienced driver. If they had been wearing seat belts.
This is where it happened. This picture is looking east. They were driving west.
There was glass. There was paint on the road for the Blazer rolling, skidding, and scraping down the road. There were skid marks. There were blood stains.
There was a group of friends hanging out at Chet’s house. They were all tired from being up late the night before but for some reason they decided to go get gas. Kenny, Keith, and Chet were in the back. Rick and LaVera in the front. The guys in the back were sleeping. LaVera was keeping Rick awake. Both of the drifted off at the same time. LaVera woke up first. They were already drifting left of center. She didn’t yell. She just said his name. By this time they were in the left ditch. When Rick woke up he tried to bring them back onto the road but edge of the road created a ridge. His last words as he jerked the wheel were “Oh LaVera”. The sudden jerks first to the right and then to the left sent the truck rolling down the road. Both Rick and Chet were thrown out the drivers side windows. Rick was killed instantly. Chet lived for 5 minutes. His buddy Kenny held him in his arms until he died. If they would have been wearing seat belts all five of them would have walked away with scratchs and maybe a few stitches.
One of the most common questions we ask when there is a tragic accident like this… Why God? Why? When they are so young and have so much life to live. Why now? Why ever? All three preachers at the funeral used the verse
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Several people talked about this being a wake up call for the community. Why are humans so blind? Why does it take something like this to wake us up out of our stupor? Let’s not let it be a waste of life.
Photo credit Juanita Kuhns