Video Shows (Distracted) Sheriff Deputy’s Vehicle Striking Amish Buggy

This video – of a vehicle rear-ending an Amish buggy – is worth checking out. Why? It’s the first I’ve ever seen of a buggy actually being hit. And it comes from an unexpected place – a sheriff deputy’s body camera as he was driving his vehicle.

The incident took place in late October in Chautauqua County, New York, home to four distinct Amish settlements (going by the look of the buggy, it looks like the Mayville settlement). And right off the bat, in case you’re wondering, the family has since been treated and released from the hospital, so it sounds like they are okay.

An image captured a split-second before impact

I think this is a pretty important video in that it shows how quickly a buggy can appear in front of you (especially in these conditions). The sheriff blamed a distraction for the accident – namely, glancing down to check his data terminal for the next call to respond to.

You might also wonder how well-lit was the buggy? And, if it had had brighter and/or flashing lights of some sort, would the sheriff not have seen it sooner (before glancing down)? That may very well be the case.

The deputy, for his part, was forthright about admitting that he was looking down when the accident happened, and has not been disciplined. It looks like the department is using this incident for good. Reading between the lines, they may have been forced into that, after the full body cam footage was posted on another YouTube channel and they came under criticism.

Wrecked Amish carriage lying in the road

More than anything though, this video brings home for me how quickly a slow-moving Amish carriage can appear on the road. It underlines the importance of being vigilant when driving in Amish areas.

People who visit Amish areas, I believe, are more aware of this. Simply sharing the road with horse-drawn traffic for a short period is a novelty. Tourists and the like, finding themselves in an unusual place and situation, will tend to remain aware of this. However, those who live for months and years among the Amish can be more apt to neglect that. Regardless, it’s something for all to keep in mind.

Hopefully, many will view this video. The embedded video below is the news report and shows the crash and a bit of the aftermath. You can also view the full body cam video (50+ minutes) here. In that longer linked video, there is footage of the Amish family post-crash, and some might find it upsetting.

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    9 Comments

    1. Alberta Wells

      Glad it wasn't worse...

      Yes, it would help if they have more and brighter lighting for their safety and others as well. I understand that the Sheriff was distracted, but he was doing his job..Maybe driving a bit slower in areas where the Amish are frequenting the roads, would also help. But did not look as tho he was speeding or the injuries would have been more severe..We can thank God for that..

    2. Central Virginian

      Horse?

      Was the horse injured?

    3. Strikerliker

      The injuries

      Five people were injured and the horse had to be euthanized.

    4. Frank Comstock

      Seems like this could have prevented

      I used to live in southern Maryland where there is an Amish community with some of them living on narrow country roads. I always knew when I was near the Amish community and drove accordingly. I also was aware of the areas the Amish went in buggies outside their own community to shop and I kept a close look out in those areas. I’ve come up on buggies on tight two-lane roads after coming around a bend going downhill)this accident looks like it was on a straight, level road). I never came close to hitting a buggy.

      I’m sure I’ll take some flack for this, but the deputy is supposed to be a professional driver with additional training in driving in difficult situations. I would not have expected a deputy to cause this accident — your average driver out there, sure, but not a deputy. The big question is why was he looking down while driving in the dark? I also used to work in a hospital and I’ve seen far too many ambulances arriving with (primarily) teen and young adults arriving after a car accident. I’m certain not saying the deputy was texting because I don’t know that. I’m just saying texting is an example of looking down and being distracted.

      I’m glad the family has not been injured severely. In most of the cases of distracted driving accidents I dealt with at the hospital, someone did die. I had to help the families of the victims after a doctor had told them their child died. I know how hard it is to do that and I have seen too often the tragic consequences of distracted driving.

    5. Sheriff vehicle striking amish buggy

      This needs to stop. Perhaps their shouldn’t be any night driving with buggies. My heart goes out to family and the horse.
      I think we all don’t keep our eyes on highway all the time looking down for radio, or using phone for directions etc. So I don’t blame the officer but why can’t separate roads be built like they do for bicycles. Night driving too dangerous to share the roads in less the speed greatly reduces to same speed as the buggy and horse. Please don’t travel at night.

    6. Dali Castillo

      Who Pays?

      I am so glad that the injured persons have all survived. When you are driving a car, especially on a dark two lane road, you are supposed to be that much more vigilant and cautious, regardless of who you are.
      Thankfully the injuries weren’t worse or fatal, and thankfully there was a body cam and the officer took responsibility.

      My question is, “Who pays for the ambulance, the hospital costs, the cost of removing the buggy, fixing or replacing the buggy, replacing the horse that had to be euthanized, and any other costs involved?
      My hope and prayer is that it does not fall on the innocents.

      1. Central Virginian

        Responsible Party Pays

        Generally the at fault party pays, whether the accident involves a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, or scooter rider, etc.

      2. Karen Baker

        Sheriff who hit Amish buggy

        The county’s insurance will cover the value of the horse and buggy as well as the medical costs.
        In Amish country, please be careful! Keep an eye out for buggies, drive slower, be prepared to swing out to give the buggy more room. Do NOT use your horn to let the buggy driver know you’re there. The horse has heard you, and knows you’re going to pass. Also, many buggies have side mirrors so the buggy driver has probably seen you behind them.

    7. R.C.

      The buggy does seem to have had lanterns on either side, instead of rear electric lights. However, as seen in the video at 1:51,it did have an SMV triangle, and reflectors at the bottom and top corners, making it visible at a great enough distance that an attentive driver could have avoided hitting it.