This happened Sunday in Oswego County, New York. From

Richland, N.Y. — A woman was killed Sunday afternoon when a pickup truck crashed into the back of an Amish buggy in Oswego County.

Two people were thrown from the buggy after the carriage was rear-ended on county Route 41 in Richland, the New York State Police said.

Susan Swartzentruber — one of the two thrown from the buggy — died at the scene, troopers said. The Pulaski woman was 22 years old.

Enos P. Hershberger, the other person riding in the buggy, was transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. The 21-year-old man’s injuries are not life-threatening, troopers said.

I imagine this might have been a young couple who were traveling somewhere together either after church, or on the off Sunday. Perhaps to a youth meeting, as the accident happened at 5:35 pm.

I’m struck by the impression that in road accidents, one passenger will often lose his or her life – while another or others go relatively unscathed. As in this case. A young woman’s life ended while the young man sitting next to her will walk away.

The buggy was absolutely destroyed. Photos of these awful accidents might be the best way to help prevent them in future. Buggies don’t stand a chance next to a truck like that. No feature you could imagine to add to the Amish buggy – seat belts, rubber bumpers, etc. etc. would offer any substantial protection. To conceivably make them more sturdy, you’d have to make them into something that is no longer an Amish buggy.

Image: New York State Police

However, the driver is not necessarily at fault here, and criminal charges are not expected. Tests showed no impairment. Features of the road may have contributed to the crash:

The crash happened where there is a rise in the two-lane country road and tall trees cast dark shadows on the road, Trooper Jack Keller, a New York State police spokesman. The shadows may have made it hard to see the buggy, he said.

A car was traveling north on the road, so Leathley couldn’t swerve into the oncoming lane, Keller said.

Areas where there are hills, rises, curves and other features of the roadway obscuring visibility can be especially treacherous. Add in shadows, weather, and light (either low light or sun glare) and the chances of such accidents only increase.

Also, the group in question here is a Swarztentruber community. Swartzentruber Amish don’t use the SMV insignia that most other Amish buggies carry. Would a bright orange SMV triangle have stood out enough to get attention in the shadowed area of the road? No one will ever know what might have been.

Condolences to this young woman’s family, and to the young man who was with her.

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