Lawmaker, Amish advocate express concern over horse and buggy safety

Sunday night's multiple horse and buggy crashes are concerning lawmakers and Amish advocates.
Sunday night's multiple horse and buggy crashes are concerning lawmakers and Amish advocates.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  Multiple crashes Sunday night involving horse and buggies have left lawmakers and Amish advocates concerned.

Police say the crashes aren’t related, but they are looking for a driver who left the scene of the fatal crash.

The most serious crash happened on State Road 37 and Notestine Road. Rebecca Graber, 18, and Michelle Graber, 16, were killed and one person was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

A pickup truck was involved in that crash, but the person driving it left the truck behind and took off.

A few minutes later, about a mile east on Notestine, there was another crash involving a horse and buggy. The people involved with that crash only had minor injuries.

Two hours later, a crash on Doty Road involving a horse and buggy left a person in serious condition.

State Representative Bob Morris said he’s focused on passing legislation that will enforce the proper lighting of buggies.

“Legislatively, they’re looking to make sure these horse and buggies have lights on the front and lights on the back and they need to be properly lit, just the same as an automobile a vehicle as we know it today,” he said.

He has a deep sense of sympathy for the families of the victims at the State Road 7 and Notestine Road crash.

“It’s all about laws on the road and the safety of the roads,” he said. “Looking at what we need to do to save future lives because there has been a number of accidents within a few miles. It’s really a tragedy to lose both of these young girls.”

Clifton Partin, a man who has drives Amish people around for a living, said he knew it was a matter of time before something tragic happened to a horse and buggy at State Road 37 and Notestine Road. He has seen many crashes at the intersection. There are people who don’t slow down for the stop sign there.

“People don’t pay attention to their surroundings and the drivers don’t pay attention to what’s going on in front of them,” he explained. “People got to be more cautious.”

Partin’s message for the community is one Morris agrees with.

“Everybody please just pay attention,” Partin said. “Even the horse and buggy drivers, pay attention to your surroundings.”

Morris added that state lawmakers are considering putting street lights and a traffic light at the intersection of State Road 37 and Notestine road.