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Germantown Swimmer Killed in Car Crash in Ethiopia

The Germantown community and the Montgomery County swimming community is mourning the loss of a young swimmer who was killed in a car crash overseas while traveling with her family last week.

10-year-old Yabby Woldyes was killed when the mini-van that she and her family were riding in was involved in a head-on collision with a bus on a dark road in Ethiopia on July 19.

Yabby was a swimmer with Rockville Montgomery Swim Club and a rising Fifth Grader at S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Germantown. Before being called up to swim on the coaches select RMSC team, Yabby was a member of the Germantown Torpedoes Swim Team which is based in the Germantown Outdoor Pool on Kingview Road.

The accident which took young Yabby’s life also took the life of the driver of the hired mini-van and left Yabby’s mother, Sama Woldyes in a coma.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family with some of the expense associated with medical bills and bringing the young girl’s remains home for burial.

The GoFundMe account, which has already raised more than $10,000 was set up by Gail Orendorff Weiner, whose daughter was a member of the young girl’s swim team.

“From the information that we’ve been able to get, from family members in Ethiopia, the primary impact of the collision was on the drivers’ side of the vehicle. The driver was killed instantly, as was Yabby,” said Orendorff Weiner. “The driver’s side of the car suffered the worst impact. Yabby’s mother, Saba, was the next closest to the point of impact. She suffered serious injuries. She was in a coma but has since come out. She has a broken back, broken hips, and it seems like some brain trauma, among other injuries. Yabby’s dad and sister came out with minor injuries.”

“She was a sweet, funny, loving child. It is a loss to our team, but it is a loss to the community. She was friends with everyone. She was the center-point on a wheel where the spokes all connect,” said Orendorff Weiner.

“Yabby was truly everybody’s friend on the team,” she said. “I know that people always say this about people posthumously, but Yabby was truly everybody’s friend. She had this electric smile; she was a very outgoing and sweet manner. She was the type of kid that made sure that new kids were comfortable in the group.”

She was a young swimmer who showed great promise. “She was a really a talented swimmer. She had all the physical tools necessary to be excel at this sport. This season she took off amazingly. Her success was peaking this summer. She had a swimmers’ body and work ethic. She used her natural talents to a great ability in the pool,” she said.

Monday night was the team’s first practice since hearing the news, and the usual loud laughter and fun in the locker room as the team prepared for practice was missing. “Practice was subdued. That is not usual for a group of nine- to ten-year-old girls. I think her absence was very much felt in that room among her teammates.”

Orendorff Weiner explained that at first the GoFundMe account was set up to help with the family’s medical expenses, and an initial goal of $10,000 was set. However, “it has become clear that our initial goal of $10,000 is woefully inadequate. Sadly, the costs of repatriating a deceased loved one from a foreign country are exorbitantly high. It may cost up to $15,000 to simply bring Yabby home so that she can be laid to rest here,” according to the GoFundMe page.

“One of the things that folks here at home have become concerned with is that there is a push to bury Yabby in Ethiopia,” said Orendorff Weiner., “and we believe that her mother would rather have Yabby interned here. I know of no parent who would want to be physically prevented from visiting their child's final resting place.”

Photo courtesy GoFundMe and Gail Orendorff Weiner.