Buggy Accident Claims Lives Of Two Amish Toddlers

All buggy accidents which lead to loss of life are tragic, but this one particularly so. An Amish buggy was rear-ended Wednesday afternoon by the driver of a pickup truck in upstate New York. Two very young Amish children died as a result. From WWNY:

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Barnett calls Wednesday’s fatal crash between an Amish buggy and a pickup truck one of the worst.

“Very tragic. There was a one-year-old that was deceased at the scene, and three-year-old later deceased at Samaritan Medical Center,” he said.

The sheriff says as of Thursday night no charges have been pressed against 26-year-old Charlene Kring of LaFargeville. She was the driver of the pickup truck. Given the circumstances of the crash, the sheriff says that part will be challenging.

“The investigation is continuing. We will put an investigation together and it will be determined at a later date if any charges will be levied. We don’t know at this time,” he said.

There were two adults and four children riding in the buggy at the time of the crash.

Officials identify them as the Slabaugh family. Two parents and their four boys ages 4 and under.

A 1-year-old and 3-year-old died. The other family members, the parents, a 4-year-old, and an infant are in the hospital.

The pickup truck driver wasn’t hurt.

“It was one of the most tragic accidents that we have seen,” said Barnett.

The community is in the area of LaFargeville and is three church districts in size. A previous mishap with a much happier outcome occurred in this area when a horse got loose and ran through the town of Watertown in March. Here is the media release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office:

And here is one of the accident photos that has been publicized. You hate to imagine what that family went through in those horrible moments and are still going through in the aftermath. On the other hand I think such images may have the best chance of getting through to people that these buggies are like matchsticks when meeting a motor vehicle at high speed. I’m not holding my breath on that one, but for what it’s worth.

The aftermath of Wednesday’s buggy accident in Jefferson County, NY. Image: WWNY

Reader Michelle asks for prayers for this family, who lives quite near her. I’ll also take the opportunity to repost this list of driving tips.


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    1. Kensi Blonde


      Terrible about the children but I always feel so bad for the horses too. This is NOT what they were meant to do.

      1. Tracy Powers


        What were horses meant to do? Stand in a field and eat grass? They would be bored out of their minds. Do you feel bad for the working breed of dogs they are rounding up livestock?

    2. Walter Boomsma

      No Sirens Will Wail...

      But on social media, the “buggy police” will come speeding to the Amish groups and pages to suggest this is somehow the fault of the Amish. I don’t think, for example, requiring seat belts in buggies (one “suggestion” I’ve seen more than once when tragedy strikes) would have made much difference. To the sheriff’s credit, he isn’t rushing to assign blame. We might be better served to consider some empathy for ALL those involved, including the first responders. With any leftover energy, perhaps we could appreciate the uncertainties in life. Gellasenheit.

    3. K.D.

      Buggy crash kills children

      This happened at 2:18 pm in the afternoon? That’s broad daylight.
      How did the driver of the pickup not see the buggy? Wonder what
      the weather was like at the time, or what speed she was driving at?
      Hopefully officials will know more when they reconstruct the scene.
      Did this really have to happen? Only time will tell . . .

      1. Michelle

        It was a clear and sunny day, the section of road is a long straightaway. There are many Amish in the area and there are road signs all over cautioning about buggies.

    4. Buggy accident

      Why why why haven’t the driver been charged. Should be put in jail Shame I wonder if driver was going slow enough especially in Amish Country. I also wonder if the buggy had reflectors. I do wish the speed limit should be same as the horse and buggy. If they drivers in the vehicle’s don’t like it then take another route. Change speed limit may avoid horrible accident.
      My prayers and thoughts go out to this Amish family if I knew how to help with their pain I’m so deeply sorry for their loss.
      This has got to stop too many accidents. Drivers of cars are totally responsible it’s like a person crossing the street. No excuse this driver should have their license taken away and go to jail.

    5. Martha Cable

      “A clear sunny day on a straight away”,… and how isn’t the driver of the pickup NOT charged? Will she just go on her merry way, just another “blip” on her screen? Was she texting? How did she NOT see the buggy? Or just so self indulged she didn’t care about anyone besides herself?

      1. Chris


        I agree, she should be charged. Will she even slow down next time .

    6. Chris

      Pay attention

      People fly on the roads near us and hammer it when they pass the buggies . It’s usually young drivers and they don’t slow down going around blind corners .. please tell people about this accident to get the word out to please drive safe and don’t speed on these roads, taking peoples lives is not worth it .

    7. T. J. ROBINS

      So tragic!

      SO sorry to hear about this devastating accident. I’m praying for this precious family.

    8. Erik Wesner

      Another accident claims 2 lives in MN

      Sadly another accident just happened this morning in SE Minnesota. At first I thought I was seeing headlines for the same story, but no this is a different one:


      (ABC 6 News) – Two people are dead and two others are hospitalized after a crash involving a vehicle and Amish buggy in Fillmore County on Monday morning.

      The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) told ABC 6 News that the crash happened just before 8:30 a.m. in Sumner Township near County Road 1 by the Sumner Center Church.

      The FCSO said it was a rear-end crash. Two people from the horse-drawn buggy were killed along with its horse. Two other people were transported to St. Marys Hospital. The extent of their injuries are unknown.

    9. Lance

      Stories like this are sad, of course. The loss of life is always tragic to those of us that remain. In Amish doctrine, these children and those in the second article Erik posted in the comments are in heaven, they are sealed with Christ in eternal glory with Him. For us, we hurt because we remain and read the tragic stories of lives seemingly cut short.

      One thing to note is that both accidents happened during daylight time. There are more vehicles and buggies on the road during daylight so that is when the risk is greatest. I can tell you after having lived Amish for 2.5 years and having driven buggies for 100s of miles on the roads when I lived, you never lose sight of the risk that this moment might be your last because cars go 60 mph and you’re going 6-8 mph. Someone suggested posting a speed limit at the speed of the buggy. No car would obey a 6 mph speed limit. How many of us car drivers routinely drive 6 mph over the speed limit posted?

      I have talked extensively to my closest Amish friend about this topic and he says that most all crashes happen during daylight hours. Lights have less effect at time. Lights and SMV signs have no effect on visibility when the cell phone and/or radio is being looked at. Or any other distraction like babies, others in the vehicle, things beside the road in the field, day dreaming or whatever. Distractions, whatever they may be, cause accidents. That said, wide shoulders and/or buggy lanes are always welcome!

      The Amish believe in God’s Providence. They believe God is in control and that no accident happens that God does not allow for whatever reason including none at all. They also believe you live for the number of days appointed unto you by God and on whatever day He appointed, you die that day. It’s not ours to control, nor that driver behind the wheel.

      One could pray that these accidents be a awake up call to someone, even someone not in the accident, to draw them to Christ.

    10. Marti

      Frustrated with lack of justice for these incidents

      I get frustrated reading about these incidents.
      What if this was a pedestrian or bicyclist?
      When a person doesn’t control their vehicle and loses control, causing injury and death, then it’s a crime and they should be held accountable.
      I get frustrated with Amish being blamed or vehicles not being held accountable.
      If this were another car, what would be the decision?
      I have seen drivers intentionally try to intimidate Amish by getting as close as they can while driving as fast as they can. Instead of getting mad about their presence and frustrated with having to drive slow behind them until able to pass, they could get together with their state or county and build Amish passing lanes, or wider shoulders.
      I see this being done for pedestrians and bicycles in areas that have increased traffic.

    11. Bert


      havnt seen any buggy/car accidents but i did see a scooter versus pavement one in wisconsin
      had to call it in and for the next few weeks provide driving for the family to the hospital

    12. George

      Update on accident

      On November 20, 2023 Driver has been charged with criminal negligence homicide. 2 counts. Speeding and distractive driving. Court date sometime next month.
      Rest of family are still healing from injuries.