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In what has been an all-too-common occurrence across the country this year, two Amish horse-drawn carriages were struck by motor vehicles in Ohio on Sunday. The Ohio buggy collisions resulted in the death of one teen and numerous injuries.
One dead, one injured in Pike County
A pickup truck pulling a trailer in eastern Pike County struck the rear of an Amish horse-drawn carriage at about 6 p.m., killing the passenger, 18-year-old Barbara Swara, who was pronounced dead at the scene by Pike County EMS.
The driver of the buggy, Korie Swarey, 17, was critically injured and airlifted to Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia. The Ohio State Highway Patrol did not know the relationship of the Swareys, who are residents of Waverly.
Cody Green, 23, of Colton, NY, was driving a 2014 Ford F-550 pickup when he hit the buggy as it traveled eastbound on Route 32, near Gravel Washer Road. Green was uninjured.
The road was flat and straight, and darkness was the only vision impediment, authorities said. The investigation is ongoing, but it is unknown whether the buggy had any reflective signs or lighting.
The collision was the seventh that resulted in a fatality in Pike County this year. There were only three such collisions in both 2015 and 2016, according to patrol statistics.
Six injured in Fairfield County
About an hour later in Fairfield County, a car collided with a horse-drawn Amish buggy, injuring four children and their parents on Route 159 near the village of Amanda, approximately 25 miles southeast of Columbus. The injuries were not considered life-threatening.
The six injured family members were taken to different hospitals. Two children were flown to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, the mother was taken to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, and three others were taken to Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster.
The four children are all younger than 12. Five other children were at home at the time of the incident.
Two horses pulling the buggy slammed into the windshield of the vehicle, totaling both the car and buggy, and requiring the euthanization of one of the animals.
Authorities are investigating whether the buggy had working warning lamps and reflectors as required by state laws.
Police took the driver of the car into custody, according to fire officials. It’s unclear if speed, alcohol or drugs were a factor. Identification of the driver and his condition have not been released.
More than 120 Ohio buggy collisions yearly
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, driving in Amish areas is different than driving on other rural or urban highways. In Amish communities, you will see horse-drawn buggies or equipment on the roadway as they travel to town or fields.
State statistics show:
- 65 percent of all traffic deaths occur in rural areas
- 50 percent of those deaths are on country roads
- Ohio reports more than 120 buggy accidents a year.
A 2017 study conducted by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College shows Ohio with the second-largest Amish population in the U.S. with an estimated 73,780 people, slightly behind Pennsylvania (74,250).