Thousands gather for Esh family funeral after I-65 crash that killed 11


Posted on March 30, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 30 at 4:27 PM

(WHAS11) - An estimated 3,500 people came from all over the United States for the Esh family funeral after three generations of family members where killed in an accident on I-65 on Friday.

The population of Marrowbone temporarily swelled to 100 times its normal size.

John and Sadie Esh were killed along with their four children; Anna, Rose, Rachel and Leroy.

Leroy's wife Naomi was also killed along with one of their three adopted sons, Jalen, who was 2-months-old.

Their other two sons survived the crash. 

Rachel's fiancé Joel Gingrich also died along with a family friend, Ashley Kramer.

Mourners arrived in small groups and on charter buses, men wearing dark suits and women with covered heads.

Lots of children came too, many too young to understand the meaning of 8 open caskets at the front of this former Carhardt plant.

One casket contained the bodies of Naomi Esh and her youngest child.

She was the mother of the two lone survivors of the horrific crash.

The only flowers on display inside at the funeral were the roses Joel Gingerich gave to Rachel Esh when he proposed to her just last week.

At the conclusion of the four hour celebration of the Esh's and Joel Gingerich's life, caskets, made by a Mennonite church in Greenburg, Kentucky passed through a silent sea of mourners one at a time into the backs of waiting hearses.

The family's final trip made together to the Marrowbone Brotherhood Church, where John often preached and all of them worshipped.

The love of a community and a higher power made the hardest day in Marrowbone bearable.

The community has been so generous to their visitors that there is literally a refrigerator truck behind this building filled with donated food that will be shared with all the many visitors on-hand.

A memorial fund has been set up to help pay for some of the funeral expenses.

Donations can be made to:

Esh and Gingerich Funeral Fund
1st & Farmers National Bank
PO Box 337
Burkesville, KY  42717
(270) 864-3311

There has also been a Facebook page set-up to memorialize the victims.

On Monday in Franklin, Kentucky, nearly 600 people gathered to remember another victim of the crash, 22-year-old Ashlie Kramer.

Those in the Mennonite church say they hope one message comes from the tragedy. 

“This was planned by God for a reason and we accept that reason and move on. And I think that's a tremendous step in removing all bitterness,” says fellow church member Bill Miller.

Other family members are caring for the two surviving young boys who are 3-years-old and 5-years-old.

The truck driver who was also killed in the crash will be laid to rest Wednesday. 

The sister of Kenneth Laymon says he was an experienced and careful driver.

Laymon's funeral is being held in his hometown in Alabama.

Officials still don't know why his semi crossed over the median.