Buggy Hit By Drunk Driver: Young Father Killed, Toddler Seriously Injured


LAFAYETTE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) – A Gratoit man has died following he and his son were thrown from their Amish buggy when it was struck from behind by a pickup truck.

According to the Lafayette Co. Sheriff’s Office, Elmer Stoltzfus, 22, passed away shortly after 9:00 a.m. His toddler son also suffered serious injuries in the crash, which happened around 7:15 p.m. Thursday on State Highway 11, in Gratoit Township, Sheriff Reg Hill stated.

Deputies who responded to the scene found that an Amish buggy being pulled by a single horse was heading west and preparing to take a left when it was hit from behind by a pickup truck, investigators said.

Stolzfus and his 2-year-old son inside the buggy were ejected and suffered significant injuries. Both were taken to a hospital in Lafayette County, but then Medflight took the father to University Hospital in Madison.

The driver of the truck, identified as 50-year-old Terry Gensler, was not injured. Gensler was arrested by deputies for Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated Causing Injury and was booked and released from jail Thursday night.

In the initial report, the two victims were described as significantly injured. Not long after, this report came out that Elmer Stoltzfus had succumbed to his injuries.

This report states that the father was Medflighted to a larger hospital, with the implication that the boy was not. That might be taken to suggest that the boy’s injuries were not as severe. That’s only my hopeful speculation. However, the earlier report confusingly states they were both taken to UW hospital.

I can more confidently speculate that there will be an upgrade of the original charges against Gensler.

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    1. Beverly E Bowers

      Buggy hit by Drunk driver

      This makes me want to cry!!
      What is wrong with the English residents who all know and live among the Amish folk and their means of transportation?!
      My heart is with Elmer’s family and praying for his son; that he is able to make a full recovery!
      The man that caused this crash needs to have the book thrown at him to the fullest extent!!

      1. Stacey

        Drunk driver vs buggy

        I feel so sickened by this accident. Of course the truck driver wasn’t hurt. He had a big machine, the young man and his baby only had a easily destructive buggy and horse. I live in Ohio about 20-30 minutes from Middlefield. There have need several buggy vs vehicle accidents. The only thing I can think of would to be to put cement dividers between buggies and cars. It’s not pretty and takes away the charm. But maybe?? Just a thought. Not a great one.

      2. CJ

        Drunk Driver

        Are there any laws that require the drunk driver who is responsible for this crash, injuries, hospital bills, lost income , and funerals …. in other words… ALL expenses incurred because of the vehicle driver’s negligence? If not …. something should be done! Prayers dor this young man’s wife, child and all involved! SO SENSELESS & sad.

        1. CJ

          in addition

          Seems like in states with an Amish communities they could make a state law that licensed drivers have to pay a small premium on their insurance policies, to cover them in case of drunken accidents and such!
          Since Amish do not sue anyone in court, the drunks should have to pay for incurred losses & expenses, Along with the insurance companies that insure the drunks!!! Seem contraversial ? Why wouldn’t that be fair?

    2. Hi!
      I’ve seen a few articles where Amish were involved in drunk accidents.
      I am curious, didn’t Amish settle in out of the way places, then others moved in around them?
      I ask, where it seems some places Amish have lived for a long time, then others moved in on top of the Amish, where they bring their bad blood with them.

      1. Geo

        Bad blood

        That suggestion is troubling. I’ve never heard of significant conflicts or even so much as resentment between Amish and English communities. Why present such an idea with no evidence? Maybe Bert can give some basis for his bad blood idea. Without anything more, I find it preposterous and uncalled for.

        1. Horse and buggy vs car

          Geo: I have heard many people complain about Amish buggies on the roads. My stepfather-in-law would complain about the Amish every time he had to slow down to pass and Amish buggy. I’ve seen people drive dangerously close to Amish buggies and then speed away.

          1. Paulette J Zalewski

            I shudder frequently when I see large trucks, speeding cars, flying by the horse and buggy. Many English don’t know a horse can be spooked, and drive so close past the buggies – even on hills and bends. To me, it shows a lack of respect, and utter ignorance.

            Vehicles are too fast, powerful, and dangerous to be competing with a horse and buggy. Maybe buggy roads could be established for many areas that would eliminate motor vehicles. Some of these roads could be on privately owned lands.

            I am amazed at the patience of some of the horses pulling the buggies in traffic. They’re brave, and have to be scared too.

            Think about some private roads.

        2. Richard

          Reply to Geo.

          Much like facetious, trolling comments another makes at times, that have no bearing on the article in question.

          Something like that, Geo?

        3. Bert Clayton

          Bad blood

          I believe some of the comments below answer your question.
          Human nature is human nature, where those with modern vehicles are often irritated by slower and smaller vehicles. I’ve heard it too many times. It doesn’t sound like you have much experience with many attitudes that exist.
          Where Amish seemed to have established themselves somewheres long ago, but others move in and the population grows, then there’s the presumptuous attitudes that think their pompous rears are superior to others. I’ve heard it too many times.
          Read the other comments, it should give you more insight as others essentially tailgating, passing too close, where jackasses are jackasses my friend.

        4. Bert Clayton


          You misunderstood, I was not inferring bad blood between the English and Amish, I’m saying the English are bad blood with their drinking and such, even influencing the corruption of Amish youth and I’m saying the Amish are good blood, living Wholesome lives.

    3. Carol


      Throw the murderer in jail and throw away the keys.

      1. Geo


        After his day in court Carol, then let’s hang him. I disapprove of letting a drunk driver loose on bail, particularly after involvement in a fatality. A significant number just go back to driving and drinking and doing more damage. It is my understanding that in Europe, at least in Netherlands and Belgium, where I have family, that anyone arrested even on suspicion of drunk driving has their vehicle confiscated on the spot pending the driver’s day in court. A guilty verdict renders the confiscation permanent. I can tell you that drunk driving is not done as casually as it is in the USA. I attended a wedding reception in Antwerp where a LOT of alcohol was consumed and I dare say no one drove home after the reception. Everyone had a sober designated driver.

        1. Romain S

          It is not only in America that buggies are a problem for car drivers, in France too. I have a blacksmith friend with whom we regularly go on buggy rides as a family or to take tourists for a walk. Last Sunday alone, we were passed by 5 cars which had stayed behind us for a hundred meters because the visibility did not allow overtaking. The wait was undoubtedly too long for some, because the 5 cars passed us successively and when the fifth car passed us, another vehicle came in front. The car in front had to brake suddenly to avoid a frontal impact and the violator of the last vehicle that passed us almost carried the horse back on our lane. While he nearly killed several people, the driver still allowed himself to lift his middle finger from his hand.
          Géo, in France also, any person caught in a situation of excess speed superior to 20 km / h (12.42 mps) or being in a state of alcoholism must leave his car on the spot and will go to court later.

        2. Horse and buggy vs car

          Geo: You are correct about the consequences regarding drinking and driving in Europe. It does happen, frequently, but, because drink driving (with victims) is taken more seriously over there than here, the consequences can are more severe. In France, just getting one’s driving license requires months of driving instruction, tests, etc. It’s expensive. Insurance rates are high. The minimum driving age is 18. For the first year, the driver must have a sticker with the maximum allowed speed limit (90KM/55 MPH) listed on it. Speed limits vary according to road and road conditions. Speed traps are everywhere and the heavy fine must be paid on the spot or the car is impounded. Nevertheless, the French love to drive fast! French drivers are required to have reflective vests in their car which they must wear when they get out of the car after an accident. They are also required to have deflecting triangles which must be placed near the car after an accident. They are even required to carry their own breathalyzers in the car! However, that law is not usually enforced. Random breath tests are legal. A first drunk driving offence results in the car being permanently impounded. There are pollution ratings stickers which all cars must have on their windshields if they want to drive to Paris Center. Any car having a high pollution rating sticker is not allowed in Paris Center, on certain days. Pollution ratings test are done on a regular basis, much like our smog test. Can you imagine American drivers having all these common sense requirements? Goodness! There would be cries of constitutional rights being infringed upon! Driving is very expensive in France! I never got my license while living in France. Their transportation system is too good to not use.

          1. Romain S

            Janice Reaner is right, she has listed well how driving is in France. The famous sticker which classifies cars by carbon emission is no longer mandatory only in Paris but in all major cities. We also have a mandatory technical inspection every two years for vehicles over 3 years old. Our driving licenses are on point. Young drivers have 6 points and drivers over 2 years of experience have 12. Each violation costs points and a sum of money. At 0 points, the license is withdrawn for 6 months and afterwards, you have to go through internships to recover points.
            In France the alcohol level should not exceed 0.5 grams (about two beers) per liter in the blood. When checking if the rate is between 0.5 and 0.8 grams, it is 750 € ($ 874) and 6 points less. Above, it is a punishment which can go up to 4,500 € (5,245 $), suspension of license and maximum prison sentence of two years. Using the telephone while driving without having an accident or failing to wear a seat belt is punished by 135 € (157 $) and 3 points less.
            These are just a few examples. And yet, our newspapers report fatal accidents and major speeding accidents every day, but it must be said that road accidents have dropped significantly in recent years with all these measures.

    4. Omar R Kassem


      We are hearing of buggy accidents much too often lately. I was wondering about a possible way to help decrease these from happening and thought about putting sensors on the back of buggies that would sound a siren and flashing lights if a vehicle got too close to a buggy. I don’t know if the Amish would accept this, but I thought it might be something to consider.

      1. Omar I had not heard of that idea and I appreciate the creative thinking. My first thought is that by the time a vehicle were close enough to trigger such a device, it would probably be too late to react.

        But, that’s only my first thought – given the advances in technology and how ubiquitous sensors and alarms are nowadays, perhaps there is some application of technology there that could be effective in increasing safety.

        1. Beverly

          Buggy hit by Drunk driver

          I was mulling over the idea of having some sort of Auto escort for buggies.

          It would consist of either a paid service or even a volunteer service. Depending.

          The idea would be,to drive behind a traveling buggy at a safe distance with the hazard flashers on;until the family had safely gotten back to their residence unharmed!

          Kind of like having a buffer zone!

          After exploring and doing research and learn the laws etc…I would retire and move out of state and settle in a area and developed

          “Beverly’s traveling escort for buggies”


    5. Debbie

      Pray for this family.

      The drunk driver needs to spend time in prison for vehicular manslaughter, & never allowed to drive again.

    6. David Plank Burry

      Buggy fatality.

      Very saddened to learn of this tragedy. My heart goes out to you. This is completely unacceptable. My drive intoxicated, how selfish. Also slow down people horses will spook easily. How about loving your neighbor as yourself……

    7. Sad News

      Drunk driving is really dangerous, thanks for sharing about it.