Four people were injured and one person died after a SUV rear-ended an Amish buggy in Burton. The driver of the SUV is facing charges of driving under the influence, aggravated vehicular homicide and driving with a suspended license.
The accident happened at about 9 p.m. on Tavern Road. According to a Geauga County Sheriff's Office representative, the driver of a 1999 Ford Explorer hit the buggy after he said he fell asleep. The buggy was destroyed and all five occupants, members of the same family, were transported to hospitals. One passenger, a 28-year-old man, died from his injuries at an area hospital while his 19-year-old sister was transported to another facility by helicopter. Reports indicate that her injuries are not life-threatening. The driver declined treatment while the others were released after being treated.
The 42-year-old SUV driver failed to stop after hitting the buggy. The crash is still being investigated and additional charges may be made. The driver is scheduled to appear in court on April 1 in Chardon. Ohio has the highest Amish population of any state in the country, according to a 2010 study conducted by Ohio State University. Approximately 120 buggy and vehicle accidents occur every year.
A driver is responsible for other motorists, pedestrians and anyone else on the road. A buggy has little shield from harm and moves at a slower rate of speed. Being aware of what is happening on the roadway is part of the duty of care a driver must maintain. In this case, the personal representative of the decedent may be able to maintain a wrongful death action for the benefit of the decedent's parents and other next of kin. Damages could include loss of support and companionship as well as other compensatory amounts.
Source: News Net 5, "Geauga Co. Sheriff's Office: Man killed in Burton after SUV smashes into buggy carrying five people", Veronica McGraw, March 31, 2014