Amish Three-Year-Old Dies After Buggy Fall

Tragedy hit on Sunday in an upstate New York community. A young Amish boy lost his life after falling from a buggy. There are not a lot of details, but this is most of the report at

New York State Police confirmed that on September 12, troopers responded to a report of an accident involving an Amish buggy on Elmer Road in Moira.

According to Troopers, three-year-old Sam Miller of Winthrop fell from the buggy while it was in motion.

The child was then transported to the University of Vermont Health Network at the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone. The child was then pronounced deceased at the hospital.

You don’t hear about this type of buggy accident often, but it is of course a danger. Buggies don’t have seat belts, and some of them are quite open. That includes those without tops, as well as covered buggies like would be typical in the plain Swartzentruber community where this accident occurred.

Such buggies don’t have a front enclosure, and in warmer months at least would have sides rolled up as you can see in the photos below by Don Burke (this is not the NY community in the story, but another Swartzentruber community):

That’s a pretty sizeable opening. A child that small might be riding up front on someone’s lap. I don’t want to speculate on what happened but you can see that a small child could fall through such a space.

Amish life does not come in bubble wrap and safety tape. For example, Amish families generally have a hands-off approach to parenting, more like what was once common in most places in the US in, let’s say, the 1950s, and is still common in some rural non-Amish areas. That doesn’t mean that Amish families intentionally expose their children to dangers (beyond those inherent to their lifestyle), and they do take pains to teach children the dangers of the road, the farm, shop equipment, etc. But, they are about the opposite of helicopter parents when it comes to things like, say, outdoor play.

And some aspects of Amish life are just going to be more dangerous. Buggy travel is an obvious one, though the danger usually comes from motor vehicles. Dairy farming with horsepower is another lifestyle with its own dangers. Lighting dependent on combustible fuels in the home, like kerosene and propane, is another example.

I also think there are degrees of this. What I mean is that life in some Amish settlements and communities (and occupations and even specific families) is going to be more dangerous – for children and adults – than in others. To give one example, some Amish (plainer groups) don’t use smoke detectors in the home. To give an example in the other direction, more progressive Amish wear orange safety clothing (children, and some adults), while walking on the road. You don’t see such bright reflective vests in conservative communities. Amish will not all agree with the lifestyle choices that other Amish make.

And it’s probably easy for some to point a finger here and say these poor parents should have had a safer setup (seat belts? closed sides?), but that’s not the way they choose to live, and so they take on the risks that their choice of lifestyle brings. And again, we don’t know what happened here. It’s not a common thing for a child to fall from a buggy. If it were happening often I am pretty certain they would adapt to prevent it.

At the same time a typical Amish child’s and adult’s life is free, or mostly free, from certain dangers and risks associated with modern English life (both physical and other dangers). Things like drug addiction, high speed car accidents, feelings of isolation and loneliness and the ills they bring, and others you can imagine. Note that I said “mostly”, not “completely”.

All that aside, I can’t imagine the heartbreak this family must be experiencing. Another bedrock part of Amish life that comes into play here however, is the belief that God has a plan. I don’t know this family, but I am pretty certain they are finding some solace in that now, and in the support of their community, which has encircled them in love and care at this time.

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    1. Lydia Good

      Things happen to everyone

      I just checked the statistics and the number one cause of death in children and adolescents is car accidents. 4,074 -Motor Vehicle Crash and the second is 3,143 =Firearm Related Injuries. This was from USA Today. How many of these deaths could have been prevented? Vehicle accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Take your eye off the road for a few seconds and accidents happen.

      It is extremely sad when children die in a preventable accident. Who knows what happened in this case. The mother or father may have been distracted momentarily. My heart goes out to this family.

    2. Sunflower

      Young Amish Boy

      Such sad news. I feel so sorry for the families when I hear about accidents like this. As much as we all want to protect our children from dangers in this world they can not be bubble wrapped, as Erik has said. We can only teach and protect for so long then pray for their safety and that they make correct choices. God does have a plan and though no one wants bad things to happen, especially to children, it gives us a chance to show His love to others and serve the Creator of all things. Sent prayers to Him asking for comfort for this family.

    3. BH

      Extending compassion

      My heart goes out to this family. It is so hard when a young life is tragically cut short. My then two year old nearly died in a near drowning and I was right next to him, doing all I could. We were extremely blessed that he was able to be saved. It taught me that anything can happen in the blink of an eye and your life can change drastically before you even know what’s happening. The news stories also did not get the details of our situation right…so I have learned there’s often an untold story and that our compassion towards fellow human beings is so important. I like your kind and thoughtful report Erik. Thank you.

    4. Paula

      So sad…

      Ugh…so sad to read this…but as Erik so eloquently & compassionately said (one of your best posts Erik)…we cannot be bubble wrapped, but is there a compromise between freedom & safety?

      Thank you for this post, & condolences to the family