A Mennonite family on their way to a wedding in Iowa was involved in a horrific crash on Kentucky I-65 on Friday morning resulting in the deaths of eleven people. A tractor-trailer driven by an over-the-road trucker from Alabama crossed the median and struck the church van head-on around 5:30 a.m., killing himself and ten of the dozen passengers in the van.
The crash occurred 75 miles from Louisville. State Trooper Charles Swiney reported that two children survived the crash and were taken to Caverna Memorial Hospital and later released.
According to WKYR-FM, John Esh, 64, and Sadie Esh, 62, of Marrowbone near Burkesville on Hwy. 90, died in the crash, along with their three daughters, Rose, Anna and Rachel, and son Leroy.
Leroy Esh's wife, Naomi, and their 4-month-old child Jalen were also killed in the crash, but sons Johnny, 3, and Josiah, 5, survived. Miraculously, the surviving boys were passenger's in the two child car seats shown in our photo gallery below.
Also killed was Rachel Esh's fiancee, Joel Gingrich. The couple announced their engagement last week and were planning a July wedding.
According to a Cumberland County news website, a fire on December 3, 2009 destroyed the home of John and Sadie Esh, sending her to the hospital with burns. The cause of the blaze was determined to be electrical, and required the assistance of three fire departments.
John Esh spoke to his congregation of 20 families on Thursday evening and referred to the fire, telling them that "we are overcomers."
There are eight additional children who were not with the family at the time of the crash, including two sons who are missionaries in Brazil, and a daughter who works with developmentally challenged children in Virginia.
Wreckage from the crash was strewn across the northbound I-65 lanes. The van was shrouded in tarps as it was loaded onto a flatbed truck for removal. The NTSB dispatched a team to investigate the crash.
Governor Steve Beshear said, "Our entire state grieves with the community and all the families will remain in our thoughts and prayers."
More photos and video below: