Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

September 14, 2013

A mended heart is celebrated at wedding

GOSHEN — Ten years ago, Leann S. Miller of Goshen had a bullet lodged in the left ventricle of her heart.

Doctors along with physician’s assistant Michael Nowak at St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend performed cardiothoracic  surgery on the heart of the 12-year-old Amish girl.

Nowak befriended her and the family while she was in the hospital, he said.

Now 10 years later, Nowak drove from Wisconsin to Goshen to attend Leann’s wedding and meet the man, James Bontrager, who stole her heart and became her husband Wednesday.

“I thought this was a unique story to tell. She was very lucky. If the bullet had been an inch over, it would have killed her,” Nowak said, during a phone interview. “We’ve kept in touch over the years writing back and forth and I’ve stopped over (at the family home in Goshen) every two years or so.”

According to a story in The Goshen News, Leann was shot in the back with a single .22 round bullet Tuesday May, 27, 2003 around 2:50 p.m. as she was riding in an open horse-drawn wagon driven by her mother, Marilyn E. Miller, near 60113 C.R. 35, Goshen, north of C.R. 126.

After the three-hour surgery, Nowak said he found out the family was on their way home from McDonald’s before the incident and decided to do something special during her stay in the hospital.

“I brought her in a McDonald’s breakfast meal that Sunday morning,” he said, laughing. “I had never eaten there (at McDonald’s) before. She was a little girl stuck in a hospital and I wanted to do something. The whole family was there in South Bend, too.”

He’s sent a special gift on occasion in his correspondence during the past decade.

“I would send her McDonald’s gift cards over the years,” Nowak said.

In the story dated May 28, 2003, according to Elkhart County police, Leann S. Miller was riding behind her mother, facing the rear of the wagon on the right side when she was struck from an unidentified direction.

Police said Marilyn E. Miller reported she heard a loud noise which spooked the horse. When Marilyn was able to regain control of the horse, she reportedly heard her daughter moaning behind her. There were two other passengers in the wagon at the time of the shooting.

The Miller family told Nowak that Leann doesn’t remember much of what happened right after she was shot.

“They say she never truly passed out but stayed awake for the most part. Now she’s getting married today,” said Nowak, who’s currently a PA-C at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He described the Amish wedding.

“It was really unique. They had a three-hour church service and then they served dinner at three different times, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for more than 300 guests — talk about a well-oiled machine. They had 60 people washing dishes by hand. There were 50 women who had cooked for three days prior to the wedding. The food was phenomenal. They had so much food. I ate the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted and asked for the recipe. They served seconds soon after the first go-around. There were at least 12 different types of desserts.”

Nowak said he was looking forward to visiting with the family after the wedding.

And the final sentence in the story on May 28 said Leann was taken to Goshen General Hospital (now IU Health Goshen Hospital) and was then transported to St. Joseph Medical Center (now Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka) where hospital officials said she is in fair condition.

“She’s so, so lucky,” Nowak said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • GN140420 ysk kalil 01.jpg You Should Know: Anthony Kalil GOSHEN -- Goshen native Anthony Kalil has been awarded a Richard Trucker Career Grant, which includes a $10,000 cash prize. He currently lives in New York. The grant is awarded to three of America's top young opera singers who are selected after a by

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140420 The 39 Steps Taking 'Steps' in Bristol BRISTOL -- The Elkhart Civic Theatre crew is set to present the classic Alfred Hitchcock mystery "The 39 Steps" at The Bristol Opera House. Performances of "The 39 Steps" are planned for two weekends -- this coming Friday and Saturday and May 2 and 3

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140420 Kokomo Tornado 03 Recent decisions by FEMA have frustrated state and local leaders KOKOMO, Ind. -- Pamela Jackson thought she was lucky to escape harm as a tornado bore down on her neighborhood last November. She huddled in a bathroom with her two disabled sons, critically ill husband and six other family members as the twister ble

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140418 ghs high mileage team 12.jpg Goshen High School Super Mileage team to compete in national competition for third straight year GOSHEN -- The Goshen High School Super Mileage team is heading to Houston this week to compete in the Shell Eco Marathon for the third consecutive year. The team, led by engineering technology teacher J.J. Johnson, is taking two cars to the competiti

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • BIZ GN0420 tech talk image Mistakes businesses make with their home page Mistakes businesses make with their home page

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140420 boston marathon 04.jpg Undeterred by last year's bombing, several locals return for Monday's Boston Marathon GOSHEN "Boston Strong" is the moniker that emerged from Boston a year ago, describing the way people dealt with the tragic events that marred the 117th annual running of the Boston Marathon. Three spectators were killed and 264 more people injured w

    April 19, 2014 5 Photos

  • GN140419 good friday 04 Local Christians reflect in advance of Easter Sunday GOSHEN - Members of the community gathered at First Presbyterian Church of Goshen to observe Good Friday with a Stations of the Cross tour.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Briefly Elkhart Store opens at mall Creative Life Memories is now open at Concord Mall. The store is owned by Jose Elizalde, a native of Chicago, Goshen College graduate and resident of Elkhart County. CLM specializes in engraving and personalizing small gif

    April 19, 2014

  • GN140419 cyclists return 05 Trio of GC alums return from Pan-American trek GOSHEN — The dream for a pan-American cycling adventure was born for Levi Smucker, Abe Stucky, and Michael Miller on the couches in a dormitory room at Goshen College in late 2010,

    April 18, 2014 5 Photos

  • GN140419 children's book experience 'Children's Book Experience' Saturday at Better World Books

    A “Children’s Book Experience” for young people in elementary and middle school is set from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Better World Books in downtown Goshen.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest