It is easy to assume that the car or truck drivers are at fault in these accidents, but that is not always the case. The horse can get spooked and bolt into the path of danger or a car driver may not see the buggy until it’s too late, for reasons beyond his or her control. This can be exacerbated by the refusal by some Amish communities (most often the Schwartzentruber groups) to use reflective triangles or battery-powered lights on their buggies. They use oil lamps on the sides of the buggies instead, which can be pretty dim and make their buggies invisible at night until you are right on them, especially in hilly areas.
Buggies fly apart on impact, as you can see from the photos. There is no protection for the horse or the passengers. In this case a young couple and their child were in the buggy and they were all three badly hurt. The horse had to be “put down.”
I remember, in my Amish days, that there were times when riding along in a buggy on a busy road was nerve-wracking. The danger was often so close, we could reach out and touch it, especially when car and truck drivers passed too close to the buggy or when they passed with something coming from the other direction.
I will never forget the heart-wrenching funeral of a first cousin, Elva, who died on Christmas Day, after sustaining injuries from a buggy crash. In that case, it was the horse that got spooked and bolted into the path of an oncoming car. The crash also involved Elva’s twin sister, Ella, and Ella’s boyfriend (now husband), Jonas, who survived.