Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jeff Schrock Update

November 14, 2005 Update from Jason, Jeff Schrock's dad. (Ernest & Louise are Carolyn's parents; Sara (Schrock) is Jeff's sister who teaches in the Russian School in Spokane; Jerrold (Hooley) is Sarah's boyfriend - he teaches the church school where Jeff's 3 girls attended; Cliff Helms is the driver of the "at-fault" vehicle in the accident.)

From: Jason
This is Thanksgiving morning. As we ponder on this day, especially focused on being thankful, there are many thoughts that swirl through one’s mind – Perhaps it seems with the loss of five precious children that it is difficult to be thankful today. But that is not so. There are so many circumstances in relation to this loss that makes one truly thankful. When one ponders the “what ifs” we can only say that the Lord doeth all things well.
We got a copy of a letter sent to Jeff & Carolyn from a local lady here that lost her husband in a traffic accident 10 years ago. He was a farmer that we had dealt with for many years. I was impressed with what she shared. I’m going to quote from it here:
“I must confess that even though I don’t know you or your children, their loss hit me hard. I have four grandchildren who are very dear to me, and I could not fathom having them gone in an instant. Our human nature wants to ask God ‘WHY?!’ Well a couple of verses in Isaiah have meant a lot to me.
Isaiah 57:1,2 (NIV)
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; (well some of us do) devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
“These verses seem to explain that God looks at death in a different way that we do – our loved ones who are in His presence no longer have to deal with the world, the struggles, sin, pain, and troubles. They are in His presence and are in peace.” End of quote.
So is there any thing to be thankful for? Certainly! Also the fact that Jeff was spared and that God is giving them the opportunity to start over with a family.
Well, I thought this was supposed to be an update on Jeff’s condition!
I’m not going to go back at this time and reconstruct the happenings from the accident on November 1, through the time of the funeral on November 7. I think most of you have the basic facts surrounding what happened. But I do want to share a few things concerning Jeff that we learned since the time many of you were here at the funeral. Some of you likely got some of this information, but will share for the benefit of all.
On the afternoon of the accident Jeff was airlifted by helicopter to the Sacred Heat Hospital in Spokane. He says that his first memory is getting on the elevator at the top of the hospital. The paramedics asked him if he knew where he was. He said, “On an elevator.” They told him he was at the Sacred Heart Hospital. He said there are bits and pieces of memory that evening, but nothing that came together to make any sense out of what was going on. He could not figure out why everyone was gathered there – why the church people and many from the Deer Park Church. Something serious must have happened, but what? He couldn’t put it all together. Also by the next morning he was just beginning to think about the children. He remembered they were with him. He wondered – had he met Carolyn and then something happened? He just couldn’t remember. It was only about a half hour later that Ernest and I came into the room and then broke the news of their deaths.
Before Jeff was released from Spokane to go to Chewelah, we had the opportunity to talk to the nurse and doctor that were in the emergency room that night. We also got the written report from the doctor that told the extent of what he found and what he did.
The thing that stood out to us in the doctor’s report was that he said he had spent three and one half hours trying to resuscitate Jeff. It’s not that he wasn’t breathing or conscious enough to answer questions, but I think the main problem was stabilizing him because of severe bleeding. He was bleeding badly but they could not find the location. The top number on his blood pressure plummeted to 60. They gave him five units of blood, but they just went through him. They did an angiogram to determine if the aorta had ruptured, which it had not. But the bleeding stopped on it’s own! In comparing the time frame of this, it appears that his bleeding stopped about the time word got around concerning the accident and people began to pray. God doesn’t answer prayer? There are no Divine miracles performed in our day? The doctor said they do not know to this day where he was bleeding, but thinks it was likely an artery off the aorta valve.
Jeff has a lot of broken bones. I wasn’t initially aware that beside the fracture of the sternum he also had a cracked rib. Also we found out that another fracture was his collarbone.
His third surgery was on Wednesday the 9th. (The two previous surgeries before the funeral had to do with his knees and jaw.) This surgery was to repair his right arm. The crazy bone on the elbow was broken, so they repaired that with a plate. Then the doctor put a nail up the inside of the entire humorous bone from the elbow to the shoulder. He told us that each end of the nail (or rod) had a hole for a screw. Once in place they x-ray it to find the hole, then put a screw in the bone and rod to keep it from swiveling. He said that the bone was broken in two places and that there were a number of pieces of bone broken loose but that all the nerves and blood supply was intact, so he was very optimistic. The doctor told me that he gives the arm an 80% chance of full recovery. He said it may be three or four months until the nerves wake up.
After that surgery they were talking of transferring him to another facility for therapy. They gave us three options: The St Luke’s Hospital in Spokane, which specializes in therapy, The St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chewelah, or home care. They felt it is a little soon for home care. We opted for Chewelah, since it is close home and Carolyn had heard good things about their therapist.
Once we got some of those decisions made and some other business matters under control our family left for home on Thursday, getting home around 11:00 pm. We wanted to be home for Beulah Patzan’s wedding on Friday and communion on Sunday morning. Ernest and Louise stayed with Jeff’s in Spokane.
On Sunday afternoon I drove back to Spokane so that I could be there to help facilitate the move to Chewelah. There were five young people traveling back in the afternoon also, including Sara and Jerrold. We basically traveled together until the last couple hours, but I drove by myself, listening to some tapes and talking to some of my siblings on the phone. I got to the hospital a little after 9:00 pm and got to visit Jeff for awhile yet that night.
There were too many things to pull together yet on Monday so the decision was made to make the transfer on Tuesday. The main thing was that Chewelah wanted to make sure they were staffed enough to handle him. It is a small hospital with approx. 20 beds and an adjoining long-term care facility.
Before leaving Spokane the orthodontist, orthopedic surgeon, and his primary care physician (the one that attended him in the emergency room) all needed to see him. The orthopedic doctor said that Jeff will need to be in a wheelchair for six weeks until his arms heal enough to put weight on them so that he can use them to carry his weight as he tries to get back on his feet. So that put it almost until the end of the year, until he can even try to walk.
The primary doctor told him before leaving, that even though he is broken up badly and has a lot of issues, all of his injuries are recoverable. That is much for which to thank the Lord.
His jawbones need to fuse together and heal before Jeff can eat anything solid. So there again for six weeks he’s limited to soft food. Most of his meals are puréed. His lower lip is still numb, just like after one gets out of the dentist chair.
They ordered a wheelchair transport to move Jeff. He sat in the wheelchair the whole way to Chewelah, enjoying the scenery on the way. They did stop at the orthodontist’s office on the way out for one more check. Carolyn and Sara rode with Jeff in the transport. The driver was a Russian man that is the father of one of Sara’s students.
Jeff’s regimen in the hospital in Chewelah has been to get out of bed twice a day and sit on the wheelchair for one and one half to three hours at a time. They usually get him up for two of his meals. Then it was a great accomplishment the first time he could use a commode instead of a bedpan. In fact the first time they were able to seat him on the commode, it took the male therapist and three nurses. I walk down the hall just as the nurses came out to give Jeff some privacy. They were jubilant, acting like a great event was taking place. Another nurse asked them if a baby had been born! I need to explain that statement. Jeff is in a room at the end of the hall that is used for the recovery room or second labor room in the OB section. They chose that room because it is large with enough room for a second bed for Carolyn. She sleeps nights in Jeff’s room. The first room they put him in was not large enough for all the paraphernalia the therapists needed, causing them claustrophobia. They also soon saw that he needed larger quarters for all his visitors.
After Jeff was settled in Ernest went home Wednesday, returning Saturday. Tuesday to Thursday nights I slept at James & Eunice’s place. That was so nice, since it is in town and not far from the hospital. I didn’t actually get a lot of time to visit there as it kept me going to keep up with things in the hospital.
The rest of the family went back to WA on Friday to be there for Bev Schrock and Arnold Weaver’s wedding. When Ruth got there we stayed out at Jeff’s from then on.
There are two therapists working with Jeff – the physical therapist and the occupational therapist. The physical therapist had me begin to help him with putting the leg and arm splints on Jeff before moving him out of bed and helping him to transfer Jeff from the bed to the wheelchair and back again. One day he took me to their exercise room and had me be the “patient” while he got me up and transferred me to the wheelchair. Then it was my turn to do it to him. There are techniques and positions that make the job easier. Jeff was in his wheelchair watching and enjoying the whole procedure. He said it helped him understand much better what they are doing to him and he can help with some slight movements at the right time.
After Ernest got back on Saturday we had another training session. I think Jeff got more of a kick out of that, watching us hoist each other back and forth. The procedure is to get the patient on the edge of the bed by getting a hold of his hips and pivot from side to side while sliding him forward with feet nearly touching the floor. Then a transfer belt is put around his waist so that one has something to hold on to. Then a slide board about two feet long or a little longer tapered on each end is used to slide him from the bed to chair and back again. I was rather amazed when I took Ernest’s entire bulk and hoisted him from the wheelchair to the bed, which was a couple inches higher than the chair, with little effort!
On Friday the occupational therapist and her assistant went with me to Jeff’s place to evaluate the house and make recommendations of what equipment is needed and how to set things up. She seemed pleased with the adequate room and the width of the doorways.
This therapist has been working with Jeff on his right hand and arm. He can close his fingers, but is not able to lift them up without help from his other hand. It is called radial palsy because the radial nerve is damaged in his upper arm, if I understand correctly. Improvement is already showing in the movement of his arms and fingers.
Another thing they are watching is his diabetes. It often goes up to 210 plus after a meal, so they are giving insulin. Before he had the accident he was able to get along with oral medication. Hopefully he can return to that later. He was diagnosed with diabetes in August and was watching diet and exercising. He had gone from 225 lbs to 205. He has lost more through this experience. The last they weighed him he was down to 188. They have him on a 2200 calorie diet because he needs the calories to heal the bones, but it’s a little hard for him to eat that much diabetic food without exercise.
Here are the plans for the near future. This Tuesday a number of the local men and Ernest poured concrete under the awning that runs the whole length of their mobile home. It had just been gravel there. Then they got the idea to put in some flowerboxes; so yesterday Joe Miller made flowerboxes with brick along side of the concrete floor, in front of the house.
Ernest’s whole family is to be there over the weekend for Thanksgiving. On Saturday they plan to build the ramp. It needs to be one foot long for every inch of rise. So that means a ramp of 30 plus feet long. A neighbor and his family plan to cut wood for Jeff today, so some of the Birky family was going to build a little shelter to put the wood in to keep dry.
On Monday the medical supply company is scheduled to set up a hospital bed in the house. They will also bring out other items needed. Then we hope to move Jeff home on Tuesday the 29th. Ruth and I plan to go back Monday evening, so we can be there to help with the move. We plan to be there for a week while Ernest and Louise come home. Louise has not been home yet – it will be four weeks from the time she left home till she gets back. From then on we plan to alternate every other week. We feel that as long as Jeff is wheelchair-bound either Ernest or I need to be there since we are the ones that got the training.
Last week I made a number of calls trying to get Jeff’s business matters under control. Jeff Kessler, who used to work for Jeff has offered to help fill orders. He and Lloyd worked on a couple tables and then Jeff K. has done a number of other items since then. So that is very nice. We are trying to hold off on any new orders for now. They are leaving the store front open until Christmas with a sign that says they will not be able to take orders, but would sell floor models and if anyone wants to wait for furniture in the future they can leave a message. I don’t see how Jeff can do any work for at least six months, and then I question whether he can do as much strenuous work as he had been doing.
I’ll mention a little yet about the graveyard where they children were laid to rest. That is such a lovely, peaceful setting, overlooking the churchyard. The dirt dug out of the grave was so rocky and full clay that they hauled in other dirt to fill the hole. You probably know that there was not enough dirt there the day of the funeral. They hauled in some more – then made five mounds. Each mound has a bronze metal marker with the names of each one. It looks so much more individualized than that great big hole for them all.
Maybe you remember the individual red roses on the table in the back of the church the evening of the viewing. Each one was labeled with one of the children’s name. They were in vases. Carolyn decided to go to school on Thursday, when they had a half-day of school for the first time following the accident. At the close of school she had each student take one of the roses – five students, five roses; three of the student girls for the three girls who died and two boys for the boys. They each took their rose up to the burial plot and laid their rose on the corresponding grave. Then the vases were given to them as a keepsake.
The Helm family continues to keep contact with Jeff’s. They were to visit him in the hospital again on Monday. Cliff Helm had a spell last week. He was at home, was telling a story, got a coughing spell and fell over, passing out for about 40 seconds. They took him to the hospital in Spokane and did testing on him but could not find anything to say why he passed out. His wife said they have an appointment with the heart specialist. If that produces no answers they plan to continue going to various specialists until they find out what is causing his problems. Cliff says he is not going to drive until they determine whether or not it is safe.
"So, prayer Warriors, Keep on Praying for Healing for Jeff and Cliff." vmr
Thank you for your concern and prayers, and please keep on praying for Jeff, Carolyn, and Mr. Helms.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Schrock Family Update II

I want to thank all of my readers for their prayers on behalf of Jeff and Carolyn Schrock. The following is an update concerning Mr. Helm and Jeff's on going situation. I encourage prayer for Mr. Cliff Helm especially, it is apparent that the state will probably seek charges against him for the wreck that claimed the five children of Jeff and Carolyn Schrock. Also pray for Jeff's physical healing and for his and Carolyn's emotional and spiritual health to continue strong dispite this tragic loss.

The following comes from The Roth Report #219, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005; for a personal subscription e-mail, news@anabaptists.org.

Court documents obtained by News4 show Washington State Patrol detectives are pursuing vehicular homicide charges against Cliff Helm. Investigators believe that Helm's driving caused a head-on collision that killed the five Schrock children on Highway 395 two weeks ago.
Physical evidence and witness statements suggest Helm had control over his pickup -- even after he swerved into the center median -- yet he still was not able to avoid the collision. Witnesses say Helm looked like he was accelerating as he drove the wrong way on Highway 395 in the seconds before the collision.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Schrock family says "though our grief is great during this time of the loss of five precious children, we have reason to daily thank God for his abundant care and provisions for us. We will never forget the sense that our great loss and sorrow was shared by the entire Spokane area." [KXLY; 11/15]
Jeffrey Schrock, the father of five children who were killed in a Spokane County car crash earlier this month, was moved to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chewelah today for therapy and care.
Ruth Hertzler, a member of Pine Grove Mennonite Church, said that Schrock "is recovering well and was in good spirits" before he left Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. In a statement to the community released through Hertzler, Jeffrey and Carolyn Schrock said they feel "blessed and humbled to have experienced the outpouring of concern and sympathy from the Spokane and Chewelah communities."
They were especially grateful to the physicians, chaplains, nurses, therapists and staff at Sacred Heart; the Washington State Patrol; Lauer Funeral Home; Calvary Spokane; Hansen Logging for helping with funeral arrangements; the media; and others who provided them with physical, emotional and spiritual support.
"We will never forget the sense that our great loss and sorrow was shared by the entire Spokane area, for which we thank you all," the Schrocks wrote. "Our prayer is that God will abundantly bless all who have touched our lives during this time of grief and sorrow." [SR.com; 11/15]
The following is from the Mennonite Weekly Review article by Robert Rhodes, http://www.mennoweekly.org/. Some of this is an overview of previous reports.
CHEWELAH, Wash. — The quiet scene outside Jeff and Carolyn Schrock’s home seemed to crystallize everything the family had lost in the previous week. There in the yard, according to a relative, were all the reminders of the five children who no longer lived there — toys, tricycles, a swing set, even a lonesome dog.

“The house was locked, but outside, you could see so many signs of children,” recalled Carmen Schrock-Hurst of Harrisonburg, Va., a cousin to Jeff Schrock. “How on Earth will these parents ever be able to go back into this empty house? I cannot imagine the many layers of memories they have to unpack and sort through.”

Schrock-Hurst and nearly 1,500 other people had gathered Nov. 7 for the funeral of the five Schrock children — Carmen, 12; Jana, 10; Carrina, 8; Jerrill, 5; and Creig, 2.

The children were killed around 4:20 p.m. Nov. 1 when their father’s pickup, headed south on U.S. Highway 395 near Spokane, collided head-on with a northbound truck driven by Clifford Helm of Deer Park. Helm’s vehicle had crossed the grassy median and, for reasons still unexplained, had driven the wrong way for more than 1,200 feet before the collision.

Jeff Schrock, 38, was seriously injured in the crash and was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, where Helm, 55, also is recovering. The children, all of whom wore seat belts, are believed to have died instantly, though one passerby told authorities he reached one of the children while she was still breathing and tried to help. Struggling for breath and gravely injured, however, the girl quickly died, the motorist said.
The children’s mother Carolyn, 32 — who is due to deliver the couple’s sixth child in December — was waiting for her family to pick her up in Spokane after a shopping trip. She was informed of her children’s deaths only after authorities had taken her to the hospital, where her husband lay clinging to his own survival in the hours after the crash.

On Nov. 5, Carolyn Schrock visited Helm in his hospital room, where she expressed her family’s forgiveness and concern for the welfare of the man many in the region have held responsible for one of the worst highway wrecks in recent memory. Church members said the Schrock family had heard that people were disparaging Helm, and wanted to send the public a different message.

“There is also another family who is sorrowing today, perhaps from a different perspective, but their chasm is great, too,” the Schrock family said in a statement. “We met the Helm family . . . and had a meaningful time. It was as if we were seeing into Sandy and Cliff’s souls. We saw their acceptance of proffered forgiveness and their expression of release from the thing that held them. It is a very special memory."

“There were some hard things said of the Helm family that were not from us. We feel and pray for them. Love builds bridges. Hate digs graves. May the seeds of love and forgiveness that have been planted this day grow and the leaves be for our healing.”

Meanwhile, at the site of the wreck, someone had set out two flower arrangements with the word “forgiveness” on a ribbon between them, according to news reports.

The deaths galvanized the Schrocks’ tiny faith community, centered on Chewelah’s small Pine Grove Mennonite Church, part of the independent Western Conservative Fellowship. The Schrocks had moved to Washington from Oregon a few years ago to help the new congregation prosper. They run a furniture-making business nearby.

According to Schrock-Hurst — whose uncle is Jeff Schrock’s father, Jason — the funeral for the five Schrock children was an emotional, faith-filled gathering that attracted a variety of people touched by the family’s tragedy.

The initial service — which Jeff Schrock was able to attend with the help of a medical crew — was held in Calvary Chapel, a large Spokane church. Afterward, mourners drove the hour’s journey to the Chewelah church, where the Schrock children, buried in a single grave, were the first to be laid to rest in the congregation’s cemetery.

“Perhaps the most vivid memory for me [was] sitting at the funeral watching the procession,” Schrock-Hurst said. “After the service, which was an hour and 20 minutes, they had everyone walk past the open caskets, all 1,500 people. It took an hour. We were some of the last to go since we were seated in the relatives section.

“It was just so amazing to see so many different kinds of Mennonites and Russian immigrants in their scarves, and Amish and Shriners in their uniforms and paramedics in their uniforms . . . and so many, many children.”

Throughout, Schrock-Hurst said, the children’s parents — Jeff propped in a specially-equipped wheelchair to cushion his many injuries — looked on. Nearby, two paramedics kept watch.

Schrock-Hurst said local response to the tragedy has been touching, with total strangers expressing condolences when they meet other members of the Schrocks’ plain-dressed church and offering everything from money to help securing motel rooms for out-of-town visitors.

“The firm faith in the providence of God and God’s ability to make something good out of this tragedy will see these people through,” Schrock-Hurst said. “The strength of community and depth of church support will undergird them. But it will not be easy, and the pain will last long after the newspaper coverage ends.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Schrock Funeral Update

This update comes from a church member and blogger friend on the west coast. His name is Mark Roth and issues by e-mail his Roth Report. If a subscription to his report is desired you can subscribe by going here: news@anabaptists.org His reports contain many briefs on current news stories from various sources. Some of what follows may repeat a part of previous postings.

The Schrock family has released a statement regarding the deadly accident yesterday.On behalf of the Jeffrey Schrock family, we want to thank all our friends, family, emergency and medical personnel, and community who have shown so much caring and compassion at this time. Your prayers and expressions of love have been a wonderful support to us. We thank God for His love and unlimited grace and strength sustaining us. "He hath loved thee with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3, and "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27

Yet even while we struggle to understand and cope with the pain and magnitude of our own loss, our hearts go out in compassion for the driver of the other vehicle and his family. We pray that God's physical, emotional, and spiritual healing power be evident in their lives. [MSNBC; 11/2]Schrock Family StatementToday many people are asking the question, "Why? Why did this accident happen? Why did Clifford Helm's pickup cross the median strip and collide with Jeffery Schrock's pickup?" The Schrock family is asking "why?" The Helm family is asking "why?" The Washington State Patrol and detectives are asking "why?" and will spend several months investigating and searching for the answer to the question "why?"

In the end, there may be only one who will know the answer to that question and that is God. It may well be that when Mr. Helm's pickup entered the median strip of highway 395, it was no longer guided by Mr. Helm but by God and for reasons only He will reveal as events unfold.
But we believe the question "why?" will be answered in thousands of ways as people respond to the wake-up God is sending to this community and to our nation.

Already, one powerful message emerging from this event is this -- that love, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation are far more positive forces for good and healing than hatred, scorn, bitterness, and alienation.

God help us all to follow the example of Jesus who said in divine love, "Father forgive them" about those who crucified Him. As we enter this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, let us all humbly seek that forgiveness and become God's ambassadors for the peace and healing of our land. [KXLY; 11/7]

Nearly 1,400 people gathered Monday for the funeral of five Chewelah children killed in a head-on collision between two pickup trucks.

The children's father survived the collision last Tuesday along US Highway 395 and attended the service with assistance from hospital staff.

Carolyn Schrock, the children's mother who was not in the accident, has expressed forgiveness for the driver of the pickup truck that smashed head-on into her family. She has met twice with Clifford Helm, of Deer Park, in a hospital room at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

Jeffrey Schrock is recovering from severe injuries he suffered in the collision when investigators say Helm's truck veered off Highway 395, went about 1,600 feet before hitting the Schrock family. Experts believe he drove the wrong way on the southbound shoulder, swerving off the road once and regaining control before impact. They have, however, ruled out alcohol or medical problems. The cause of the accident remains under investigation. [KXLY; 11/8]

Here's how 1,500 mourners explained the deaths of five Mennonite children, all under the age of 13, all from the same family: By answering in 19 different ways that God, their Shepherd, was calling in his lambs.

But 19 answers don't quell the question: Why?
"We need to consider his wisdom and be satisfied with that," Mennonite deacon Clayton Eveleth told the crowd assembled Monday at north Spokane's Calvary Chapel.

Jeffrey Schrock was able to attend his children's funeral on Monday with the aid of a heavily padded wheelchair and a medical crew. He sat beside Carolyn Schrock, pregnant with their sixth child, facing the small white caskets containing the bodies of Carmen, 12; Jana, 10; Carinna, 9; Jerryl, almost 5; and Craig, 2.

The Schrocks wanted Eveleth and two other church leaders conducting the service to emphasize the need to forgive Helm, who had crossed the median and driven about 433 yards in the wrong lane before the crash. It remains unclear why Helm crossed the road.

Carolyn Schrock visited Helm at Sacred Heart Medical Center on Saturday in a personal gesture of forgiveness. The Schrock family photographed the visit and delivered a picture to local media, along with a written account of the visit.

"Love builds bridges. Hate digs chasms" was among the sentiments of the account.
Members of their Pine Grove Mennonite Church had heard hurtful statements about Helm in supermarkets and elsewhere. Concerned, the Schrocks decided to make their gestures of forgiveness public.

"There was a response from Carolyn right from the beginning for the driver of the other vehicle and how he was doing. That's compassion," Dan Hertzler, a Pine Grove congregant and family friend, said away from the service. "Forgiveness is the foundation of the believer's experience."

After the service, a procession of cars more than a mile long meandered up US 395, past the site of the accident and some 30 miles beyond to Pine Grove Mennonite Church cemetery in Valley. There, beneath a dozen canopies and myriad umbrellas, mourners watched as the children's caskets were lowered into the earth.

There were hundreds of mourners from as far as Virginia and Mexico, Guatemala and Poland -- family members and friends familiar with the Schrocks through Bible schools, people who were moved by the magnitude of the tragedy.

In the crowd, as a choir sang, Mennonite women tended to restless children. Some gave their daughters cautionary grasps on shoulders. Others cradled children for a long time as only parents can.

Beside the burial site of her five children, for perhaps the first time in 12 years, Carolyn Schrock's arms lay still at her sides. [Spokesman-Review; 11/8]The emergency responders quickly knew the gravity of the crash last Tuesday that killed all five children of a Chewelah, Wash., family. But for more than an hour, they feared there were even more victims they hadn't yet found.

Some of the responding fire crews from Spokane County Fire District 4 and Fire District 9 worked to free the children from the upside-down, twisted mess of their family pickup, while others stopped traffic to avoid more damage at the crash site on US Highway 395 near Hatch Road.

"We didn't know if that was all or not," District 4 Lt. Larry Helmer said. "We were concerned of maybe having to find more. Thank God it wasn't too long after I took over as incident commander that we found out that we had all the victims accounted for."

Although nearly a week has passed, the grisly recollections remain fresh in the minds of many of the first responders to one of the worst crashes in recent memory. The fire districts have provided counseling to their crews, many of whom are volunteers with their own young children.

When the first emergency workers arrived, they removed 55-year-old Clifford Helm from his pickup and 38-year-old Jeffrey Schrock from his truck. Others quickly worked with hydraulic jaws capable of opening sheets of steel like aluminum cans to carefully extricate the five children.
As a second MedStar helicopter waited on the ground on the chance that any of the children could be saved, a rising fear grew with each tense minute, said District 4 Deputy Chief Dave Phillips.

"In the vehicle, we were fairly certain that we knew what we had. We knew we had five kids," Phillips said. "As each was confirmed deceased on the scene -- as it continued to grow until there were five yellow sheets -- that added the layers of emotion and stress. You could see people realize the immensity of the incident."

Phillips arrived at the crash site just minutes after the accident, in which Helm's northbound 1999 Ford pickup left the roadway, crossed the median and continued the wrong way in the southbound lanes before smashing into the front of the 1986 Ford F-250 pickup carrying Schrock and his five children: 12-year-old Carmen, 10-year-old Jana, 8-year-old Carinna, 5-year-old Jerryl and 2-year-old Craig.

"This one, you could just tell by the dispatcher that this was a critical call," Phillips said. "One of the first things I did with the incident commander was to try to get a good count of how many people we were dealing with."

After securing the crash scene and helping the medical examiner photograph and load the children's bodies, Phillips and Helmer had emergency crews gather in a circle to talk about the crash and what they had seen. Phillips also let them know they would have a debriefing session with counselors to help cope with the range of emotions caused by witnessing the carnage.
"You do your job when you are at the scene," said Helmer, a 50-year-old volunteer. "But afterwards, you think about it. I very much hope I never see my grandson under one of those blankets." [Spokesman-Review; 11/8]

A friend who attended the funeral told me this evening that at the wreck site (about three miles from the funeral site and on the way to the cemetary) somebody had put up two flower arrangements with a sign (?) between them saying "Forgiveness." [Mark Roth]

Yesterday on her way home from the funeral, my wife (and those with whom she was traveling) stopped at a KFC in Spokane. A stranger walked up to them and asked them if they'd been at the funeral. She then said, "I'm so, so sorry." [Mark Roth]

Schrock Family Update

Hundreds of friends, relatives and fellow Mennonites traveled from as far as Mexico, Canada and the East Coast for Sunday's viewing of the five Schrock children who were killed last week in a traffic accident. The viewing was held at Pine Grove Mennonite Church near Chewelah, Wash.
Woman forgives driver in crash that killed her children

Carolyn Schrock, the Chewelah woman whose five children were killed in a collision Tuesday, has forgiven the driver of the pickup truck that smashed head-on into her family after swerving into oncoming traffic, and wants others to do the same.

A spokesman for the Schrock family, Daniel Hertzler, provided copies of a prepared statement Sunday, along with a photo of Schrock meeting with pickup truck driver Clifford Helm, 55, in a hospital room at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. The statement says the two families have met twice, once Friday night and again Saturday morning.

Here is the text of the statement:
"Today we stand, as it were, in a great chasm of sorrow that is bridged by your love here today. Thank you.

"There is also another family who is sorrowing today; perhaps from a different perspective, but their chasm is great, too.

"We met the Helm family on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday morning, and had a meaningful time. It was as if we were seeing into Sandy and Cliff's souls. We saw their acceptance of proffered forgiveness and their expression of release from the thing that held them. It is a very special memory.

"There were some hard things said of the Helm family that were not from us. We feel and pray for them. Love builds bridges. Hate digs graves. May the seeds of love and forgiveness that have been planted this day grow and the leaves be for our healing."

Hertzler provided no details beyond those contained in the statement, which is signed by someone calling himself "Grandpa Birky."

Schrock's husband, Jeffrey B. Schrock, 38, is recovering from severe injuries he suffered in the collision near U.S. Highway 395 and Hatch Road. He was driving with their children to Spokane to meet Carolyn Schrock, who had traveled to town earlier in the day, when Helm's northbound pickup careened through the median and into the highway's southbound lanes. Cause of the accident remains under investigation.
From staff reports, November 7, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Schrock Obituary

SCHROCK, Carmen Joy, 12; Jana Louise, 10; Carrine Jean, 8; Jerryl Burdette, 4; and Craig Alan, 2.
Carmen Joy Schrock was born April 30, 1993 in Lebanon, Oregon.
Jana Louise Schrock was born March 23, 1995 in Lebanon, Oregon.
Carrina Jean Schrock was born October 7, 1997 in Chewelah, Washington.
Jerryl Burdette Schrock was born November 26, 2000, in Chewelah, Washington.
Craig Alan Schrock was born December 22, 2002 in Chewelah, Washington.
They all died in Spokane, Washington, November 1, 2005 in a traffic accident. They were born to Jeffrey and Carolyn (Birky) Schrock, who survive. Their ages at the time of their death were: Carmen 12 years, 6 months; Jana 10 years, 7 months; Carrina 8 years; Jerryl 4 years and 11 months; and Craig 2 years, 10 months.
The family moved from Halsey, Oregon to Chewelah, Washington in 1996 to assist in the church work of the Pine Grove Mennonite Church of Valley, Washington.Carmen, Jana, and Carrina were three of eight students in the Pine Grove Mennonite School. They were in grades 7, 5, and 2 respectively. They enjoyed school life and applied themselves well. Jerryl and Craig were normal, active, busy boys at home. All five children were open and friendly to friends and strangers alike and will be greatly missed by the family, church, and community.
Beside their parents they are survived by maternal grandparents Ernest and Louise (Bear) Birky and great-grandparents Elden and Priscilla Birky all of Halsey, Oregon; and paternal grandparents Jason and Ruth Schrock of Halsey, Oregon and great-grandmother Mildred Kropf of Harrisburg, Oregon; and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins. They were preceded in death by their grandmother Marilyn (Kropf) Schrock, great-grandparents Clarence and Mary (Brunk) Bear and great-uncle Gaylord Bear.
The family wishes to express deep gratitude for the immense outpouring of love, prayers and consolation that we have received from so many relatives, friends and neighbors from near and far. Our hearts have been especially touched by the concern and sympathy expressed by the Spokane and Chewelah communities.
Visitation for family and friends will start at 4:00 P.M. Sunday at the Pine Grove Mennonite Church located in West Jump Off Road in Valley, WA.
The funeral service will be at 10:00 A.M., Monday, November 7, 2005 in Spokane at the Calvary Chapel, 511 West Hastings directed by the LAUER FUNERAL HOME in Deer Park, WA., followed with interment in the Pine Grove Mennonite Church Cemetery in Valley, WA.
Trust funds have been set-up at the American West Bank and the Bank of America, under Jeffrey B. Schrock's name.
You can donate money in care of: Jeff Schrock Fund, Pine Grove Mennonite Church, 2784 A. Clarke Rd, Chewelah, WA 99109

Friday, November 04, 2005

Memorial Planned for Schrock Children

This is an update on the Schrock family and the current plans for a memorial for the children that perished in a traffic accident in Washington state.
Community preparing memorial for crash victims
05:48 PM PST on Thursday, November 3, 2005

Rob Kauder / KREM.com

SPOKANE - Friends and family of five children killed in a head-on collision Tuesday night north of Spokane have begun preparing services to reflect on the lives of Carmen, Jana, Corrina, Jerrill and Creig Schrock.
The five children were killed in a head-on collision Tuesday afternoon along Highway 395 near Hatch Road north of Spokane. According to investigators, a truck driven by 55-year-old Cliff Helm of Deer Park crossed the centerline and slammed head-on into a truck driven by the children's father, 38-year-old Jeffrey Schrock of Chewelah.
The family will be holding a viewing of the children on Sunday at 4 pm at the Pine Grove Mennonite Church. On Monday funeral services for the children will be held at 10 am at the Calvary Chapel of Spokane, located at 511 West Hastings.
Following the services the funeral procession will drive to the Pine Grove Mennonite Chirch where the Schrock children will be the first to be buried in the church's new cemetary.
Family friends Dan and Ruth Hertzler remember the oldest of the children, Carmen, as being open, friendly and loved to sing. Her sister Jana was very studious; a good student who loved attending school and reading.
While Jana was quiet her younger sister Corrina, the middle child in the family, was considered very active and outgoing; “if you ever read ‘Winnie the Pooh’, she's Tigger."
Jerrill was a year away from beginning school and was just as friendly and outgoing as his sister Corina. He loved playing with his two-year-old brother Creig who was outgoing and loved jellybeans.
The children's father, Jeff Schrock, is recovering at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, where he is listed in serious condition. His wife Carolyn is pregnant and is expecting the family's sixth child in six weeks.
Schrock Memorial Fund
You can donate money in care of:Jeff Schrock Fund, Pine Grove Mennonite Church, 2784 A. Clarke Rd, Chewelah, WA 99109

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Please Pray for the Schrock Family

To all of my readers, I ask you to pray for Jeff and Carolyn Schrock who recently lost their 5 children in a wreck that almost took Jeff too. I am posting the local article as we received it by e-mail.
Five children die, father badly injured in north Spokane crash
Associated Press
Two pickup trucks collided head-on in the city's northern outskirts, leaving five young children from a Mennonite family dead and their father badly injured, authorities said.
Jeffrey B. Schrock and his children were in the extended cab of a southbound 1986 Ford F250 when it collided with a northbound 1999 Ford F250 which had crossed a grassy median and entered the southbound lanes of U.S. 395 about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Washington State Patrol report.
Carmen Joy Schrock, 12; Jana Louise Schrock, 10; Corina Jean Schrock, 8; Jerrill Burdiette Schrock, 5, and Creig Allen Schrock, 2 were pronounced dead at the scene.
"This may go down as the worst crash" in the Spokane area, patrol trooper Jeffrey M. Sevigney told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. "Nobody could remember one, at least in this area, in recent times that's been this bad."
Schrock, 38, co-owner of a furniture store in Chewelah, and Clifford L. Helm, 55, of Deer Park, driver of the newer pickup, were rushed to Sacred Heart Medical Center. Schrock was in serious condition early Wednesday after initially being listed as critical and Helm was in satisfactory condition, both after undergoing surgery.
Evening rush-hour traffic was detoured around the crash scene just north of North Hatch Road. Northbound lanes were reopened about 8:45 p.m. but southbound lanes remained closed a longer time.
Ralph Hooley, another member of the 12-family Mennonite community in Chewelah, about 45 miles north of Spokane, told the newspaper the family was going to meet Schrock's pregnant wife Carolyn, the children's mother and the other store co-owner, who had gone shopping in Spokane.
The crash shook windows in the area and horrified passers-by who tried to render aid.
"I thought it was like an earthquake," said Jayme Marquardt, who lives nearby.
"There were about 30 people all standing around with their jaws touching the ground," said Caleb Gilbert, a motorist who stopped soon after the crash.
Gilbert said two of the children still had pulses when he reached the Schrocks' pickup, including a girl who was conscious but struggling to breathe. He said he pulled a body off her, but she died soon afterward.
Cause of the crash remained undetermined. Sevigney said there was no immediate indication drugs or alcohol were involved.
"We're going to spare no expense in conducting an investigation," patrol Lt. Steven G. Turcott said.
According to an article in The Spokesman-Review in 1997, the Schrocks opened North Country Furniture after they and two other Mennonite families moved to Chewelah from Tangent, Ore.
"He has a shop there at his house where he makes furniture — tables and chairs and things like that," Hooley said.
Please pray for Mr. Helm and his family too.