No criminal charges will be filed against a man who slammed into the back of a horse-drawn buggy in Michigan in September 2019, killing three Amish children and injuring another, officials said this week.
The driver, Ronald Ramsey, was 83 at the time of the crash, according to a news release from the Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
Three children were killed at the scene of the crash, about 20 miles west of Lansing, and a fourth child was hospitalized, according to the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. The children were all siblings between the ages of 6 and 13 and were on their way home from school, unaccompanied by an adult, said Sheriff Tom Reich of Eaton County.
The decision not to charge Mr. Ramsey, now 84, was not a statement about his criminal culpability, the office said, but “based on Ramsey’s age, lack of criminal history, and the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is unlikely that he would be incarcerated if convicted.”
Mr. Ramsey could have been charged with three counts of moving violation causing death, the office said. If convicted he faced up to 24 months of probation and up to 12 months in jail for each count.
Mr. Ramsey lost his driving privileges after the crash, the authorities said.
“After a complete analysis of the case and possible consequences, the conclusion was reached that formal charging and conviction of Ramsey was not likely to accomplish more than a conviction on paper,” the office said, adding that the decision was made in consultation with the family of the deceased.
Collisions involving cars and horse-drawn carriages are not uncommon in Amish communities, which reject automobiles and other modern technology.
Michigan has seen a handful of car-buggy crashes this year. In August, five people were hospitalized after the buggy they were riding in was rear ended in Iosco County. Farther south, in Quincy Township, two young boys were injured in a similar crash the month before. And in May, a woman in Elkland Township was hospitalized after a distracted driver collided with a buggy in which she was riding.
In April, five children died when their horse-drawn buggy overturned on a bridge in northeastern Kentucky.
There have been crashes involving buggies in other states over the years, too. From 2007 to 2016, 23 people died in Pennsylvania in collisions involving horses and buggies, according to the state’s Department of Transportation, The York Daily Record reported.
In Ohio during the same time period, there were 1,412 crashes involving a motor vehicle and a horse-drawn buggy, according to an Ohio Department of Transportation study. There were 25 fatalities and 208 serious injuries, the report said.
In general, tracking accidents involving buggies can be difficult. Most states, including New York, where the Amish population is growing, keep no separate data on accidents involving buggies.