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Expert, state police urge caution on roads following deadly buggy crashes

Expert, state police urge caution on roads following deadly buggy crashes
Posted at 5:41 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 17:41:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In just one week, Virginia had two horse and buggy crashes.

Following these crashes, people in the Amish and Mennonite communities want more awareness about road safety.

The first crash happened last Wednesday in Richmond County. Police said that a horse-drawn buggy was hit by a Jeep Cherokee on Route 3 near Folly Neck Road.

The two people on the buggy were injured and the horse drawing the buggy had to be humanely euthanized.

The driver of the Jeep was charged with reckless driving.

The second crash happened in Cumberland County on Sunday night. Police said that a Toyota Tundra struck a horse-drawn buggy. There were ten people on the buggy at the time of the crash, according to Virginia State Police.

Of the ten people on board, two were adults and eight were children. Police said that both adults, Barbie and Josh Esh of Farmville, died.

Their children, who range in age from nine months two 16-years-old, were taken to the hospital for treatment. As of now, two of the children have been released from the hospital.

A GoFundMe has been started to help with the hospital expenses for the eight children. So far, it has already raised over $10,000.

In both the crashes, police said the buggies were equipped with the required "Slow Moving Vehicle" triangle placard and lights.

Erik Wesner, with "Amish America", said that there is no real spokesperson for Amish communities to ask for added safety features in the areas they settle in.

Wesner also said that many communities, like the families in both of the crashes, choose to display the orange safety triangle and lights on their buggies.

Another factor that could have played into these crashes is where the Amish choose to settle. Wesner said they are often drawn to areas where there is more accessible farmland.

In more rural areas, Wesner said that curves and hills can often obscure views and create a hazard for horse-drawn buggies and drivers.

CBS6 reached out to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to see if they plan to add any signs in Amish communities to alert drivers.

In May of 2019, VDOT added signs on several primary and secondary roads in Richmond County to alert drivers to the presence of horse-drawn vehicle traffic.

The signs are accompanied by a plaque underneath that reads "countywide".

One of these signs is placed at Folly Neck Road, close to where the first buggy crash happened.

VDOT has not said whether they plan to add more signs to the area.

Following Sunday's crash, police say Amish buggies are becoming more popular in the Buckingham, Cumberland, Charlotte and Halifax Counties. They want to remind the drivers of the importance to be on the lookout.