Young Amish Woman Killed, Young Man Survives NY Buggy Crash. Shadows At Fault?

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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    1. Richard J. Traunero

      What about the horse?

      No mention in the article, but I assume the horse did not survive, either.

    2. KimH

      These posts are so sad..I just hate seeing them.
      Prayers to family and friends.

    3. C.J.

      Prayers for the family ~

      Condolences to the family of both young people.
      What a last memory for the young man ~
      Also wondered if the horse survived or had to be put down?

    4. Horse survived

      The source article reported that the horse survived. I wouldn’t have expected that. Especially viewing the photo of the complete destruction of the buggy. Similar to one passenger essentially walking away, and one passing away.

    5. Would a bright orange SMV triangle have stood out enough to get attention in the shadowed area of the road?

      “Standard” SMV triangle: I don’t know. A “Tri-Color Triangle(tm)”… a lot more likely.

    6. Susan Swartzentruber

      So sad!
      Susan and Peter were married only seven months. “Swartzentruber” was her maiden name. They were both originally from the Mt. Eaton, Ohio area.
      Prayers for everyone involved.

    7. Buggy accident

      Desperately need their own lane. Group together and with permission to make their own lanes or re direct the cars somewhere else please. Prayers for the families and for the horse. So inexcusable can be solved making their own lanes.

    8. Bonjour
      I am saddened by these dramatic events and these bereaved families and affected communities. Voices that are no longer, laughter that we will no longer hear, these prayers which brought meaning to life, these harmonies which will be missing in the songs, are so many things that death takes away. But dying is not death. (décéder n’est pas “la mort” ) Life is in these hymns and the spirit remains in the prayers of these loved ones.

      Yes it takes a lot of prayers.

      Je suis attristé par ces événements dramatiques et ces familles endeuillées et communautés affectées. Des voix qui n’existent plus, des rires qu’on n’entendra plus, ces prières qui donnaient du sens à la vie, ces harmonies qui manqueront aux chansons, sont autant de choses

      qu’un décès emporte.

      Mais un décès d’un d’un croyant, n’est pas la mort.
      (décéder n’est pas “la mort” )

      La vie reste dans ces hymnes et l’esprit demeure dans les prières de ces proches.

      Oui il faut beaucoup de prières.

    9. At the risk of being over-analytical at a time of such loss, I can easily see how one life (person or animal) is taken and another left in a situation like this. We (English) are so used to thinking from a perspective of sturdy (metal and/or high-impact plastic) vehicles that by design make for a single environment for all those with in; but the buggy structure is altogether different. A modern vehicle is built to absorb and distribute impact; the buggy has neither the design or the materials to do such. Let me put it this way: Were the young man and woman walking instead of riding in a buggy, we would not be surprised that the accident could have taken one life and hardly scratched the other, because it solely depends on who is in the line of impact with the vehicle. Of what I have seen of the buggies, the design and materials do little or nothing to redistribute the force of the impact or otherwise alter the result of it.

      Condolences to all those touched by this tragedy.

    10. other

      Please also pray for the young man who hit them . This also will impact him forever. put alights on buggies this may not continue to happen.

    11. Terry Berger

      Another possible reason

      I always feel dismayed with these stories. Here in Pennsylvania a horse always has the right of way no matter what. That came up on the my license test many years ago. Another possible reason for the difference in potential survivors could be related to the side of the buggy the person was riding on. Americans place the driver on the left and the passenger on the right whereas in a buggy, the driver traditionally is on the right while the passenger is on the left. You see this in Britain where the driver is still on the right and the passenger on the left. In Britain, this is a direct carryover from horse and buggy travel. Some early cars here in the states were also patterned this way but by the 1920’s all American autos had the driver on the left.