Toddler killed in farm accident in Coshocton County

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Jethro Miller, a 14-month-old boy, was killed in an accident at his family's farm in Coshocton County on May 7. His swing at the family home sits empty. (Susan Shea photo)

CLARK TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Henry Miller was glad of the extra daylight hours that the early days of May provided. He worked all day on May 7 but came home briefly to get some materials loaded into his pickup in the early evening to help his neighbors. Henry has a reputation for always being there for others, always helpful and kind, say those who know him.

Miller was delighted to greet his family for a few minutes, particularly his youngest boy, Jethro Aaron, who at 14 months was a vibrant and happy little boy who loved the outdoors. Miller finished loading the bed of the truck with what he needed and briefly turned to make sure of Jethro’s whereabouts.

His tiny son was playing in a driveway puddle, fascinated as he always was with the natural world. Miller pulled the truck around and just when he was ready to head off down the driveway, he felt the sickening thud that happens when a truck makes contact with something substantial.

There was no cry. There was no noise. When Miller got out to investigate what he had hit, he saw Jethro’s lifeless form. In anguish, he lifted his small son’s body and carried it into the house. He knew that life had fled. “Just 30 seconds before, he had been happily playing,” he said.

Henry, his wife Anna, as well as the seven siblings, were all in a state of confusion. This couldn’t have happened. He can’t be gone. They were trying to process it. Because they are all believers, the first thought wasn’t to call 911 but rather to phone their church pastor. It was the shock that made them simply stare at their youngest child’s quiet and still form, paralyzed because of his condition and not able to make any clear decisions.

Anna Miller felt like the world had melted around her. She had still been breastfeeding this small boy. He was happy and always smiling. She could barely comprehend.

Jethro Miller

Returning from the funeral two days later, she said that she wishes people would learn from her son’s death. “It’s worth the time to watch your children — truly see them,” Anna Miller said. “We need to be really sharing each day with them — not be so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we miss important times.”

Anna Miller said that on the morning of the day Jethro died, she had watched him playing in the garden. He turned his head to listen to the sounds of the birds. He watched the antics of the farmstead, turning to see the chickens and young kittens.

“I remember thinking that he was so aware of everything, and I was so glad to see him out there so happy.” The house has had family, friends and neighbors visiting since Jethro’s death. They have rallied around the family in this rural Coshocton County community.

Friend Edna Mae Miller is tidying up the kitchen with her husband Wayne, to help the young couple. She said that she feels that God had given Anna that moment, that intuition, like a gift on the morning of the day he passed away. “I told Anna that God had held her there for that moment, so that she would always remember him just like that,” Edna Mae Miller said.

Neighbor Josh Hostetler said he heard the sirens when the family called 911.

“They came with two police cars going fast and then an ambulance. I told my wife something big was up and then I realized it was Henry and Anna’s place and I just said ‘oh no, oh no’ because you could just tell it was bad,” Hostetler said, as he placed a vase of flowers on the table. “I just want to lift them up,” he said.

Henry Miller is feeling the strain of the past few days. He said he has a message for people.

“Love your children. We have but a moment, and then they’re grown. Or something like this happens. We get so tied up with our priorities. We think things we are doing or have to do are important, but they’re not. We are so very often always in a hurry. Take the time with your children. Enjoy them.”

Having just returned from the funeral and subsequent burial of their youngest brother, the siblings are quiet, subdued and dressed in their best clothing. They help carry food and flowers into the house from their family van. A daughter, age 15, is said to have been “like a second mother” to her now-deceased little brother and looked to be processing it the hardest.

Another daughter tells the parents that she has a bee sting on her foot. Both Henry and Anna get some salve for her because life goes on and seven children need them.

Anna Miller looks resolutely ahead.

“Jethro’s life won’t be without meaning. I am sure somehow the story of his life, and his death, will help someone.”

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