15 Injured In Virginia Amish Buggy Crash; Buggy Accidents Decline In Lancaster County

A somewhat bad news, and a rare good news story today in the buggy accidents department.

First, this is the largest number of accident victims I have ever seen in a buggy incident. Thankfully, they all seem to have just minor injuries. The accident happened in Buckingham County, Virginia.

This is the same area as the Farmville settlement which I visited and wrote about here last year. From the Farmville Herald:

The Virginia State Police (VSP) are reporting the Amish buggy involved in a two-vehicle accident Sunday, Sept. 6, in Buckingham County was struck from behind by a car. The car’s driver has been charged with reckless driving.

The crash occurred at 7:53 a.m. on Route 15, less than a mile south of Route 617. An Amish horse-drawn buggy that was pulling a wagon was traveling north on Route 15 when it was struck from behind by a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt,VSP Public Relations Director Corinne N. Geller said in a press release.

The buggy and wagon had a total of 15 occupants, she noted. The operator of the buggy, John Yoder, 33, of Dillwyn, was partially ejected and was transported for treatment of minor injuries.

The remaining 14 passengers were all transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries, Geller stated. Their ages ranged from 35 years of age to 5 months old.

The vehicle driver was uninjured. Founded in 2016, Farmville has been a fast-growing community over the past several years, drawing Amish from Lancaster County.

Buggy Accidents With Injuries Decline Slightly in Lancaster County

In a related, good news story, analysis by Lancaster Online finds that buggy accidents involving injuries declined slightly in Lancaster County in the past decade, compared to the previous decade.

The actual numerical drop is not huge, though there were significantly fewer fatalities comparing the first decade of the 2000s with the second.

Total buggy accidents with injuries:

2000-2009: 213

2010-2019: 197


2000-2009: 7

2010-2019: 3

More importantly, but not mentioned in the article, is that these numbers are more significant than they look – when you consider population growth in the Amish community in the same period.

The Amish population grows rapidly. The overall Amish population is said to double roughly every 20 years.

If total accidents have declined somewhat, while the Amish population is rapidly growing, the per capita accident number is going to be significantly lower (though it’s harder to pinpoint those figures over time for comparison purposes).

Lancaster County might not have quite that high of a growth rate, due to out-migration. But, their numbers have still significantly increased over the past 20 years.

So this slight decrease is more significant than it first looks. Perhaps safety measures and awareness have improved in that time.

6-Time DUI Offender Sentenced For Buggy Crash

One more story while we’re on the topic. A judge in Lycoming County, PA had some choice words for a 6-time DUI offender who hit a buggy and injured six Amish people while drunk and speeding in 2017:

“I’m sorry all this happened,” said Cranmer, who pointed out he has been in counseling for several months.

Lovecchio was skeptical of his claim that every time he drank he got caught. That’s an exception that disproves the norm, the judge told him.

He refused to accept Cranmer’s claim assessments show he does not have a substance abuse disorder noting alcohol has destroyed his life, his health and impacted others and his future.

Saying he expects Cranmer to start drinking again when he gets out of prison the judge commented: “Maybe you could do the community a favor and move to the wilderness somewhere and drink yourself to death.”

The judge sentenced him to 4 to 8 years. A sad story all around. You can sense the exasperation in the judge’s words. This guy is a repeatedly-proven threat to community safety, and it doesn’t take a PhD to predict how his story is apt to continue once he’s released. It’s unlikely he’ll change course with that track record, though miracles can happen.

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    1. Geo


      That Judge may have been intemperate in his comments but right on target. Alcoholics are not only out of control but seem to lack ability to know how wrong their behavior is. Laws in this country are tolerant of impaired driving, thanks, I believe, to the political power of the industry that profits from the sale of intoxicants. Follow the money.

    2. Aj

      Only 3 deaths in nearly 10-yrs involving buggies/cars. Why does it seem like buggies are far safer then cars? Maybe cars should be the ones to get off the roads.

      Btw I am only saying that because I know a terrible driver in Pennsylvania who always complains about the Amish/Mennonite buggies when she drives like 90 mph around curvy, narrow, and hilly roads. I hate driving with her. She thinks roads are only made for reckless drivers like her.

      1. CG

        What is the top speed of the typical horse-drawn buggy? Surely it couldn’t be much more than 15-20 mph? When cars are limited to that speed range, fatalities (whether of people inside the car or outside it) are virtually non-existent. What it goes to show, I think, is that speed is the #1 determinant of safety, more than airbags, impact protection, seat belts, or any of the other features intended to mitigate the result of crashing at high velocity. The only safety features that haven’t been developed in American cars, strangely enough, are speed governors capable of restricting vehicle speed to the posted limit.

    3. J.O.B.

      Alcohol is so established in society, it’s difficult to get stronger laws in place.

      There should be zero tolerance for drinking and driving.

      Tough words by the judge. But accurate. There are many people who never change. They say they will. But so many never do.

      1. CG

        The article mentions that his liver is failing (presumably from alcoholic cirrhosis) at the age of 40, which suggests an extraordinarily high level of alcohol consumption. Sending him to prison, while obviously a punishment, is probably the only thing that could keep him above ground. If picking up a drink is, for him, a death sentence, then the judge’s words are simply a harsh admonishment to carry out that sentence without taking any other lives.