ELIZABETHTON — The first contingent of Amanda Berry’s Tennessee relatives to make the trip to Ohio to see her left Friday afternoon.
It is the first time they will have seen her since she was kidnapped 10 years ago, held in captivity in Cleveland and escaped Monday.
The trip’s driver was family member Jennifer Bennett. Riding with her was Bennett’s daughter, Madison, Amanda’s grandfather, Troy Berry, and 8-year-old cousin Harley Berry, who has never seen Amanda but has grown up hearing the family talk about her.
Several family members gathered to wave goodbye as Bennett pulled out of the driveway at 3:30 p.m. in the midst of a rainstorm.
Amanda Berry’s uncle, Curtis Berry, said he talked to Amanda on the phone Thursday night to let her know the group was coming. He said Amanda was excited with the news and told them to hurry.
Curtis said Amanda is still undergoing medical treatment for the problems of 10 years of captivity. He said Amanda’s 6-year-old daughter appears to be in good health.
Curtis said he hopes to make the trip to Ohio to see Amanda and her daughter next week.
Bennett’s trip will be a short one. She plans to reach Cleveland by 1:30 a.m. Saturday. She will leave Sunday because she has to be back at work Monday. But the group feels the chance to see Amanda for the first time after her ordeal is worth the drive.
Bennett grew up in Ohio with Amanda for the first 10 years of her life before moving to Tennessee.
The family maintained close contact despite the distance, with frequent trips to Ohio and having Amanda visit them in Tennessee.
“We must have made the trip 100 times or more,” Curtis said.
But this is the first time Jennifer has driven north. She seemed self-assured about driving despite Troy Berry’s jokes about “women drivers.”
Because they were only going to be gone over the weekend, the group packed lightly, but they did carry several copies of the Johnson City Press front-page story that featured a photograph of four of Amanda’s younger cousins who were born after she was kidnapped. Harley was one of the cousins in the photograph.