No criminal charges will be laid 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 years old at the time of the crash, according to a press release from the Eaton County District Attorney’s Office.
Three children were killed at the crash scene, 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 aged 6 to 13 and were on their way home from school unaccompanied by an adult, said Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich.
The decision not to charge Mr Ramsey, now 84, was not a conviction on criminal charges, 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 faces up to 24 months probation and up to 12 months in jail on each count.
Mr Ramsey lost his driving privileges after the crash, authorities said.
“After a full analysis of the case and the possible consequences, it was concluded that the formal indictment and conviction of Ramsey would likely accomplish no more than a paper conviction,” the office said, adding that the decision was made in consultation with the deceased’s family.
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 buggy accidents this year. In August, five people were hospitalized after the buggy they were in ended up in Iosco County. Further south, in Quincy Township, two young boys were injured in a similar accident the previous month. And in May, a woman from Elkland Township was hospitalized after a distracted driver collided with a buggy she was riding in.
In April, five children died when their horse-drawn stroller overturned on a bridge in northeast Kentucky.
There have been accidents involving strollers in other states over the years. From 2007 to 2016, 23 people died in Pennsylvania in collisions involving horses and strollers, according to the state Department of Transportation, the York Daily Record reported.
In Ohio during the same period, there were 1,412 accidents involving a motor vehicle and a horse-drawn stroller, according to a study by the Ohio Department of Transportation. There were 25 dead and 208 seriously injured, according to the report.
In general, tracking accidents involving strollers can be difficult. Most states, including New York City, where the Amish population is growing, do not keep separate data on accidents involving strollers.