Amish 18-Year-Old Runs Stop Sign While Drunk, Buggy Tips Over, Ejects Passengers

I’m not loving sharing all these bad happenings on the roads with you. But after posting the sad case of a drunk driver who killed a young Amish father in Wisconsin last week, I surely can’t overlook this latest story.

An 18-year-old Amish male was charged for “recklessly operating a buggy while drunk.” I don’t think that’s the exact name for the criminal charge, but that’s how the article describes it. Here’s what happened, via WKBW:

Authorities say Adam Byler of Panama went through a stop sign at the corner of Goshen Road and Rock Hill Road in the town of Harmony at a high rate of speed, resulting in the buggy to tip over, early Sunday morning.

The crash resulted in people being ejected onto the road, including a person under the age of 17, which injured the horse.

Byler was taken into custody and was released on an appearance ticket.

He is expected to appear in Town of Harmony Court at a later date to answer to the following charges

    • driving/torturing an animal
    • reckless endangerment 2nd degree (4 counts)
    • endangering the welfare of a child

I assume the “driving/torturing an animal” charge results from whatever happened to the horse in this incident. The “endangering the welfare of a child” likely refers to the person under age 17 who was also in the buggy, probably a younger friend or sibling.

Two weeks ago on the 3 Biggest Buggy Dangers post, Pat Monti wrote:

Accidents aren’t always the fault of the English. In our area, (central Illinois) we and many others we know have had near misses; and they haven’t been as a result of our poor driving.

That is worth remembering. Car-buggy accidents may more often be caused by motor vehicle drivers, but it is certainly a two-way street. Adam Byler is fortunate the consequences here were not more serious. Drunk driving is entirely preventable.

This happened in Chautauqua County, New York. Byler is just a few years younger than Elmer Stoltzfus, the 22-year-old-father who was killed last week.

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    1. Guest

      Can they try seat belts?

      They use traffic reflectors so why not that other basic intervention? These poor people and their animals are suffering needlessly. Thanks for your blog!

      1. Larry Simon

        Buggy seatbelts

        I have been thinking the same thing. Please have the leaders consider this safety tool to save lives. They use the paved roads, buggy seatbelts would stop the projectiles!

      2. Geo

        seat belts

        I know an Amishman who had a buggy vs car accident in Illinois recently. The crash destroyed the buggy and broke his back. All occupants were tossed out. I don’t know the details of who was at fault. The thing is, these buggys are lightweight flimsy contraptions and any significant impact disintegrates them. Unlike being anchored by a seatbelt inside a heavy steel automobile, a buggy does not protect occupants in any way. Seatbelts are not the answer to safety in every possible scenario. I’ve heard seatbelts being proposed for motorcycles too. Maybe that was in jest. In any case, unrealistic.

        1. Larry Simon

          Stop projecting people

          Yes the buggy is not a car but the same physics is at work. Being a former physics teacher the idea of motion is what seat belts fight against. When something is hit the energy from one object is transferred to the other object. If a car hits a person the energy from a heavy car would send a light person in comparison a great distance depending on the speed and weight of the car. When a car hits a buggy with people in it it weighs more than the person along and the motion of the buggy/person would be less than the person alone. Here is where the seatbelt comes in. It keeps the person and buggy together. If no seatbelt the person takes the energy from the car by its self and projects it out. Flying in the air and colliding with a tree or something causes serious injury or death. So I still think seatbelts could save lives. Thank for listening, I haven’t taught a physics lesson in many years. It was fun!! God’s blessings.

          1. Donald W Young II

            Seat belts in a buggy.

            In a car the seat belt is anchored to a strong steel frame. A buggy is built to be as light as possible. There is nowhere to anchor seat belts where they would hold. Further more the passenger compartment of a car is built to protect the occupants while the passenger compartment of a buggy will disintegrate. Nice idea, won’t work. Laws of physics at work here.

    2. Geo

      drunk at the reins

      I’ve had a few chuckles about my friend Eli and his dear old horse bringing him home after too many beverages with my English Nephew. This story gives me a different take on that. That horse may find the way home while Eli naps at the reins but I wonder if it yields the right of way at stop signs. I suspect not. It’s not so funny anymore.

      1. Jerry

        Trained Horses

        I have not only seen some horses trained to recognized stop signs and halt but I’ve been to Amish horse auctions where that feature was mentioned in the auction description and announced during the auction. The auctions were in Lancaster, Lebanon and Dauphin counties and my first hand experience was in Bellville, Mifflin County.

        1. Geo

          Horse sense

          Horses recognizing stop signs makes me love them even more, as if that were possible. Big powerful creatures living only to faithfully serve their masters in return for a little bit of care. My English Nephew has buried a few horses for his Amish friends. It takes a big grave and a big backhoe. The deceased horses seem to be treated with respect almost like family members and friends rather than mere livestock.

    3. Reader

      I have never read in the Amish Romance Novels, that Amish men get intoxicated. This surprises me. Amish buggy rides just seem very romantic. Maybe the Amish youth would like to learn about the one-horse, one-buggy derby races. Idk what they are called, never been to one. Very sad for all involved in the accident.

      1. Sunflower

        Drunk Buggy Driver

        Well I hope this teaches this young man and company a lesson on drinking- don’t do it! And to the last commenter- it’s called harness racing. It was my Grandfather’s favorite sport. He trained horse and sold them. I visited the track once in Sarasota or maybe Sarasota Springs was the name? It’s in New York. But it’s probably a gambling establishment. I wasn’t old enough at the time to know about such things!

        1. Sidney Gilman


          I think you mean Saratoga Springs.

    4. Karen Baker

      Drunk buggy driver

      We used to spend a lot of time near Panama, in the next town, Sherman. Our neighbor was named Byler , and he had a much younger brother named Adam. There’s so many Byler families in that area. I hope it’s not the family we knew.
      When we’d be out and about in the local bars, every so often we’d see a few Amish guys come in, to buy a 12 pack of beer. Budweiser seemed the favorite, but that doesn’t mean anything as that’s one of the US top selling beers.
      I met, a few times, another Amish man, Chris, who seemed to me, to fit the description of an alcoholic. He would go off on a jag, leave his wife and kids, then, a few weeks later, return home. A friend of mine knew him, and would give him odd jobs, let him board his horse at his farm, and would let him stay in a room in the barn. He’d also go tell this guy’s wife, where he was.
      The last time I saw Chris, he was staying at my friend’s house, and apparently, his wife had finally gone to the bishop. He’d been shunned, and was not allowed back, until he could prove he was sober, and had been, for some time. He had hitched his horse up to a buckboard kind of wagon, and was giving us rides. I realized he was drunk, and refused. But two friends of mine got on the wagon, and off they went. We saw the horse take off at a gallop, startling Chris, who lost the reins. That horse went full tilt, with three people hanging onto anything they could, for 2miles, before turning around and galloping back! My friends were terrified, and their “driver” was barely understandable.
      After that ride, the horse wouldn’t budge. Chris recovered, and wanted to give more rides ( he got no takers), so he unhitched the mare. That was quite a show-he kept tripping over harness he was letting fall on the ground. The mare had her ears back flat, and we were wondering how long it would be before she hauled off and kicked or bit him. I took the mare to the pasture, and she ran to the other side. I think she wanted to be as far from that drunk as possible! I also think, when she bolted on the road, she was as teaching him a lesson, because she did come back.
      After this, Chris did get off the booze, and actually went to a local AA meeting. He talked to his bishop and his wife after a few months of sobriety, and was taken back. I often wonder if he’s still sober. I hope so. Sober, he was an excellent carpenter, and a really nice guy.

      1. Rosie Hippler

        Thank you for sharing Karen

        My brother’s first wife was from Panama and I think they had a daughter together. After they divorced, he married a teacher. My brother was a really nice man, but father made his life difficult being his first born son. Us much younger siblings had it easier the younger we were. While my older brother and sister had to call our Father “Sir”, I was the first to be allowed to call him Daddy. Father was a good Provider and a matter-of-fact thinker, but still very stern. When I bought my beloved house, I was very happy and felt that father was genuinely proud of me when he and mother visited. Sadly after my divorce, I rented a room out to an alcoholic with the intention to keeping the house, but that was not ment to be. Alcoholics simply can not be trusted. I thank God for keeping me safe and protected. I think sharing our stories unites us, and gives us a sense of healing. I hope this young man has learned his lesson to never give in to alcoholic temptations. Since we do not know about the injuries of the passengers, I pray that all will wake up to their deeds and recover with no lasting scars or reminders of the accident, and I feel sorry for the horse.

    5. Geo

      Karen and Rosie, thanks for sharing. Drunks really have an illness. Alcohol ruins their lives and poisons the lives of those close to the alcoholic. The late Pastor George Vandeman said there is something about addiction to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco that makes one lose the ability to know how wrong it is. I have observed the truth of that in my own family and friends. They simply lose the ability to know they are doing wrong and unless and until something shocks them into awareness, they will not stop.
      The anecdote about the horse’s reaction to the drunk was interesting. Maybe that’s a demonstration of the horse sense we’ve all heard about.

    6. Pat Monti

      Amish 18-Year-Old Runs Stop Sign While Drunk, Buggy Tips Over, Ejects Passengers

      Thanks for sharing the article; sad as it is. Hope all; including the horse, will recover well. Also, hopefully Adam Byler will be held accountable as he very well should be.

      As with we English, Amish are not perfect; despite what many seem to believe who romanticize them. We frequently interact with them in central Illinois, and my husband has worked with and even for some of them. The stories I could share, but this isn’t the time or place to do so.

      Also as with English, Amish should be punished if they break the law. Although oftentimes many of them don’t believe that any of the English laws should apply to them.