PARKMAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal crash involving an Amish buggy in which a 33-year-old father was killed while riding with his 9-year-old son.
The crash happened about 5:30 p.m. Saturday on Route 422 in Geauga County. The Highway Patrol says both were in a horse drawn buggy when a car driven by a 34-year-old man from Warren crashed into them from behind.
“Both the father and the son were ejected from the buggy after being struck by the car from the rear,” said Parkman Fire Chief Mike Komandt. “Not long after we started working on the patient, life saving measures were terminated due to the severity of the injuries and direction from our med control doc at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center.”
The highway patrol identified the father as Stephen Hostetler, 33 of Garrettsville. His 9-year-old son was transported to a local hospital, but Komandt says he suffered only very minor injuries. OSHP says the driver of the car was not injured.
Komandt says Amish Families make up a large part of his community and the department responds to at least one crash a month involving Amish buggies.
“The risk is certainly there, we have noticed in the past couple of years there are either very severe injuries involved with these incidents or there are no injuries,” he said.
John Schramm of Akron is a retired police officer, now an investigator, who says he is currently looking into 22 crashes involving horse-drawn buggies in five states. He says what he has learned about what happened in Parkman Township on Saturday is not surprising.
“Not at all. Probably a huge percentage of buggy accidents are just like this,” said Parkman.
OSHP is investigating Saturday’s crash and has not yet identified a suspected cause although troopers have said alcohol is not a factor. But in many of the other crashes Schramm says he is investigating he sees one common factor.
“Distracted driver comes upon a buggy all of a sudden and the closing speed is just too great,” said Schramm. He also says in the accidents he investigates the buggy is at a significant disadvantage.
“Terrible disadvantage yes, structurally there’s not much to a buggy and, you know, a 3–4,000-pound vehicle versus a buggy made of wood is just, there’s no protection there whatsoever,” said Schramm.
Outside of his fire department Komandt has a sign urging motorists to be aware of motorcycles and buggies.
He says drivers need to be aware of their surroundings, slow down and understand that everyone needs to share the road.