Three Children Killed In Michigan Buggy Crash


An awful story from yesterday morning:

EVERGREEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police say three children were killed and six other people were critically injured when a pickup truck crashed into a buggy Sunday morning.

It happened at 8:34 a.m. on Condensary Road at Wood Road in Evergreen Township, southeast of Sheridan.

Police say the truck was eastbound on Condensary Road when it hit the rear of the buggy, which was carrying nine people.

MSP says the three children killed were 7-, 9- and 12-year-old girls.

Six other people in the buggy were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Troopers say their injuries are life-threatening.

The driver of the pickup, a Sheridan resident, was not injured, and troopers say he was cooperative.

Sadly, buggy acccidents happen frequently, but this one was particularly bad.

As you can see from the photo, the buggy was obliterated:

This report describes the crash victims as Mennonite. This report calls them Amish.

Montcalm County does have an Amish population. Sometimes “Amish” and “Mennonite” are mistakenly used interchangeably in the media.

But at the end of the video above, you can see two men who have an Old Order Mennonite appearance.

Amazingly the horse survived, and “was fine”. It’s often the other way around in these accidents.

Safety on the road

This Horse and Buggy Driver’s Manual was created with involvement from groups including the Lancaster County Amish Safety Committee, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and “Members of the Plain Community” (Lancaster County has a large Old Order Mennonite population).

According to the foreword, the manual is meant “for horse and buggy drivers operating on public roadways. However, this manual can also be useful for motor vehicle drivers, especially out-of-town visitors and tourists, not familiar with encountering horse and buggies traveling on the road.”

Typical horse-drawn buggy speed is just five to eight miles per hour. Driving at typical automobile speeds, you will approach a buggy deceptively quickly.

Factors impairing visibility such as hills and curves, and lack of lighting at night can all contribute to accidents. Early morning and before dusk are times to be particularly wary, due to glare from the sun obstructing vision.

Even when all precautions are taken, accidents happen. No word yet on the cause of this one, though it’s reported that alcohol and drugs were not involved.

Update: Additional video, with comments from a local resident who heard the crash, and footage of the road:

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    16 Comments

    1. Debbie H

      buggy accidents

      I saw this earlier on a news feed. It saddens me that young children were killed. I noticed on the news feed that the buggy did have reflectors and lights so even if it was early morning would be visible. I know the driver must be devastated by this as well. From the damage to the truck it looks as if he didn’t quite get over soon enough. Praying comfort for the family of these children.

      1. Yes, it said 8:34 am is when the accident happened, not sure what early AM conditions are typically like in that part of the country this time of year, but you’d think it would be light by then. No mention of fog or other complicating weather conditions that I’ve seen.

    2. Al Mortenson

      I’m sorry to learn of this tragic accident. I looked in GAMEO (Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online) in the entry “Old Order Mennonite Groffdale Conference” which is a horse and buggy group and it listed a church of that affiliation founded in 2009 at Vickeryville which is near Sheridan in Montcalm County.

    3. Alice Mary

      Preventable tragedy?

      My heart goes out to all involved in this awful accident, the girls, the injured, the families, the pickup driver & community at large. Maybe now, as the “local” man who was interviewed said, they’ll put up “horse & buggy” yield signs. I’m surprised signs weren’t already posted. Even though “church” for the Amish changes regularly (not sure about Mennonites in that area), there is just a limited distance you can reasonably travel with a horse & buggy. Signs would seem a no-brainer.

      Such a sad Sunday. They’re all in my prayers.

      Alice Mary

    4. heidi

      this is a Mennonite community. the men in the video do not have beards and their hats are not in keeping with amish appreance.

      1. Right, mentioned the men’s appearance in the original post. Al in the comment above shares which group this likely is.

    5. Kevin Lindsey

      How very sad to hear and closer to home since it happened here on Michigan. My heart and prayers go out the victims and their families

    6. These are definitely Mennonites, originally from Nappanee, Indiana. I found a listing for them in the 2007 Groffdale Conference Mennonite churches. The oldest child was born in 2003. I am sure my brother and sisters would know the grandparents of the children killed.

    7. Nancy

      How can we help?

      Erik, is there anything set up whereby we might be able to financially help these people? I don’t know if the Mennonites accept help from the outside, and thought it was worth it to ask. Am just thinking that medical and funeral costs for nine people will probably be astronomical.

      1. Christy

        I was going to ask if there is any way we can help in any way. Even just to send a card with condolences if they don’t typically accept help from outsiders.

      2. I haven’t seen any info on that yet Nancy, but nice that you’re wondering, will share here if/when I do.

      3. Benefit fund

        Nancy, Al in KY passed this link on to me, on a benefit fund for the Paul and Judith Martin family, parents of the children:

        http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/11/bank_creates_fund_to_help_fami.html

        ‘Donations “For the Benefit of the Martin Family” are being collected at Chemical Bank, 110 E. Main Street, Stanton, MI 48888, according to Heath Jacoby, manager of the Stanton office. Donations for the family also can be brought to any Chemical Bank branch in Michigan Jacoby said.’

        The children’s funerals are being held this morning:

        http://www.luxfuneralhomes.com/obituary/4426518

        http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2017/10/neighbors_embrace_farming_fami.html

    8. Ken Tibbetts

      Terrible Loss

      My condolences to the family of the three girls killed in that terrible crash. We all know whose fault it was because it was a rear-ender and from the looks of the totally demolished buggy, the young man driving the truck and its condition tells us that he was travelling at breakneck speed. The skid marks on the road should tell those investigating the crash that there was a distraction such as texting or some other similar task being performed while driving. To me a crime was committed and the driver who crashed into the buggy should be charged with one. However, the Amish, who are the epitome of Christian belief, have probably already forgiven him.

      The young man driving the truck should thank his lucky star that he didn’t rear-end an English family in their car; he’d be spending the rest of his life paying off a law suit.

      I must be forgiven for speaking my mind, but over the years I’ve heard of and seen the results of too many mindless crashes involving the Amish that it breaks my heart when I see things like this happen.

    9. A. K. Edwards

      Martin Family Tragedy

      It was so heartbreaking to learn of this horrific accident on our local Grand Rapids, Michigan newscast! I realize the man envolved surely didn’t purposely aim his truck but since he is from this area he should have been well aware of horse drawn buggies and I am quite upset that he did use more caution!!! As a mom and Gramma I can’t imagine having to cope with the loss of these dear children and the family having to have many days, months or years with their healing process……I can only send a check to help with some of the expenses and keep them all in my prayers and thoughts!!!

    10. MARY

      Having signs posted won’t help at a time like this if this man was local. I am thinking he has been served his punishment already, if he wasn’t drinking. I tend to think drinkers will inhale more to drown the pain.
      Sometimes God picks out someone to carry out His plans. I can’t begin to imagine the grief of this family and friends. May God hold them in the comfort of His great LOVE.
      Yes, these were Old Order Mennonite, who are much like the Amish.