WOOSTER, Ohio -- A jail chaplain says the Amish parents of five children run down by a speeding motorist on a country road have forgiven the man accused of driving the car.
Chaplain Lee Anderson said 18-year-old Eric Bache wept when he relayed the message from the families.
Bache has been charged with five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. Investigators say he was the driver of a car that killed five Amish children near Fredericksburg on May 13. Five other children were injured in the crash, which occurred in a hilly road when Bache lost control of his speeding car, authorities said.
Bache appeared in Wayne County Municipal Court Friday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The case will be heard by a grand jury next month. Bache was being held on a $25,000 bond.
Anderson said the Amish families now want to put the tragedy behind them.
'All they want is to get on with their lives and be healed and for Eric to have a life-saving experience and be saved,' Anderson said.
'They want the healing process to begin. I was touched,' he said.
During his court appearance Friday, Bache cried and said he was sorry and 'didn't mean to do it.'
The chaplin said he met with Bache on May 16 and that the youth, who had sent for him, cried.
'I believe he's sincerely sorry for what has happened,' Anderson said.
That stands in contrast to a report from the Ohio Highway Patrol after the accident. Lt. Bob Maxey said Bache appeared 'pretty laid back, unemotional.'
In another development, a resident of a village south of Cleveland said he has raised $50,000 to help the Amish families.
Gary Sands said he expected to raise only $10,000 and was overwhelmed by the response and the 1,400 condolence cards the Amish Children's Fund has received so far.
'The generosity of people is overwhelming,' Sands said.
The money will be used to pay hospital and doctor bills. The Amish traditionally have shunned insurance as well as most modern conveniences, such as motor vehicles and electricity.
Donations also have been received by the Cleveland Browns and the Indians professional sports teams.