Virginia community supports family after mom killed in buggy crash

Posted at 7:12 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 19:25:28-05

BUCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. -- A donation jar labeled "Amish Family Accident" sat on the counter of Wise Ridge Country Store in Dillwyn.

Joanne Taji and her son have accepted cash and checks at their store for the Yoder family since Friday's crash involving a horse-drawn buggy and a truck.

"This family was just coming home from a church program at their school," Taji said. "Their stuff is just scattered all over Route 60."

The buggy was traveling east on Route 60 when it was hit from behind by an eastbound 2015 Chevrolet Silverado pickup, according to police. Troopers stated the buggy was equipped with flashing lights and a reflective triangle.

John Yoder, 36, who was seated outside, was thrown from the buggy when it was struck.

Four children, two boys and two girls ranging in age from two years to 10 years old, were transported to UVA Medical Center with serious injuries.

Their mother, 31-year-old Sylvia Yoder, died at the hospital Saturday morning.

"They are so worried about the driver in this accident that hit them. They're worried they want to meet him and console him," Taji explained. "This community is very generous and very forgiving."

Wise Ridge Country Store often employs members of the Amish community who move to Virginia. Taji said more families are moving from Pennsylvania to Buckingham County to settle down.

She urged drivers to slow down for the horse-drawn buggies on the road.

"We'd like to do something to try and get more signs," Taji stated. "It’s going to be countywide awareness. It’s going to be people acting together."

Signs depicting a horse and buggy above the words "share the road" are posted near the county line.

A VDOT spokeswoman said the state agency would look into the signage requests.

Wise Ridge Country Store is accepting donations including meals for the family when they come home. The store is located at 34 Wise Ridge Road in Dillwyn.

The driver of the Silverado, 67-year-old George M. Lee, of Buckingham, was not injured in the crash. He was charged with reckless driving.

Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, according to investigators.

Pineview Bulk Food & Deli located at 749 Plank Road in Farmville also has set up a donation box for the Yoder family.

"I can’t stop thinking about it"

Holly Cole pulled up to the crash scene just moments after impact.

"I never expected I would see a horse drawn, a carriage to smithereens, and children on the side of the road," Cole explained.

Cole jumped out of her car and ran towards the children to help.

"They were sandwiched between the injured horse and the mom, so I didn’t want them seeing either," Cole recalled. "I just kept laying on the ground with them and trying to get them to take slow deep breaths."

Despite the chaos of the situation, Cole saw strangers working to help the family.

"I really saw humanity coming together with this," Cole stated. "A man came up with a handmade quilt that he had and put it around one of the children. Another woman one helped with the horse."

Cole urged drivers to pay attention to the road.



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