People Staff
December 25, 2006 12:00 PM

THE AMISH SHOOTINGS

Around Nickel Mines, Pa., where five Amish girls were killed and five seriously wounded in the Oct. 2 rampage by gunman Charles Roberts, the spiritual and physical healing are well under way. Victims’ families met with Roberts’ widow, Marie, to offer forgiveness. “It was very emotional,” the father of a survivor told the Lancaster New Era. “It was good for both sides.” Two of the wounded girls suffered brain damage but three others are back in class. Meanwhile, the torn-down school will soon be rebuilt, thanks to a flood of donated money. “The Amish have been very grateful,” says local midwife Rita Rhoads Reed. “They had no idea the whole world would be feeling for them.”

SAGO MINE SURVIVOR

In the year since the Sago Mine disaster, sole survivor McCloy, 27, has made impressive gains—though “he will never be who he was before the accident,” says a family spokesperson. By summer, physical therapy had improved his balance and coordination enough to enable him to play games with his children (now 2 and 5). This spring, he and wife Anna, 26, are expecting another child. “My husband is home; our children have their father,” says a grateful Anna.

MARY WINKLER

Mary Winkler is no longer behind bars for shooting to death her allegedly abusive pastor husband, Matthew. She’s behind the counter at Cleaners Express in McMinnville, Tenn. Out on bond and awaiting trial, Winkler has been warmly received in town. She attends the Central Church of Christ, and church members who knew her during her husband’s days there as youth minister say how much happier she seems. But Winkler pines for her three children, whom she’s allowed to call once every other week. “I know she misses them terribly,” says a friend. “But she tells us, ‘With God’s help, I’m doing okay.'”

MISTAKEN IDENTITY GIRLS

An April car crash near Upland, Ind., left Whitney, 19, in a coma; her schoolmate Laura VanRyn died. In a horrific case of mistaken identity, authorities confused the two until Whitney came out of her coma a month later. She’s now “doing so well it’s amazing,” says her grandfather Emil Frank. Cerak got her driver’s license back before Thanksgiving and plans to go skiing and snowboarding soon. “Whitney’s back,” says friend Holly Bowman. “She’s taken the whole weird situation well.”

BARBARO

The courageous Kentucky Derby winner, who shattered his right hind leg at the Preakness, took his biggest stride toward recovery in November, when his cast was removed. “He’s doing well,” says University of Pennsylvania surgeon Dean Richardson of his “cooperative and resilient” star patient (above, in September). “He’s gaining weight. He’s a happy horse.” Still, Richardson cautions that Barbaro has just begun to heal and is still at some risk: “He’s got a lot further to go before I’d consider him to be a true success.”

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