Hurt buggy rid­ers go­ing home from hos­pi­tal

Af­ter wreck in­jured seven, po­lice ad­vo­cate mak­ing horse­drawn car­riages more vis­i­ble

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JOHN WHAR­TON jwhar­ton@somd­ Twitter: @John Ent News

Seven peo­ple rid­ing last week­end in a horse­drawn buggy, in­clud­ing five young chil­dren, were all ex­pected to be back home home by to­day, Wed­nes­day, po­lice re­port, af­ter be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized for in­juries from a crash.

“It’s a mir­a­cle,” Lt. Thomas White of the Mary­land State Po­lice said Mon­day af­ter­noon.

Shortly af­ter mid­night on Satur­day morn­ing, po­lice and vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers re­port, they re­sponded to Route 6 near Char­lotte Hall and found the seven Me­chan­icsville area res­i­dents, some ly­ing in the road, af­ter the buggy’s collision with a car.

“A few of them were in pretty rough shape, there on the scene,” Me­chan­icsville Fire Chief Mark Trow­bridge said this week.

The buggy driven by Aaron Hert­zler, 33, of Me­chan­icsville was trav­el­ing on the west­bound shoul­der of the high­way, and 25-yearold James Win­dell Price Jr. of Me­chan­icsville was driv­ing a 2000 Nis­san Al­tima west on the high­way, when the buggy made a left turn to en­ter Culver Lane, ac­cord­ing to state po­lice. The buggy and car col­lided in the west­bound lane of the road­way, and all seven of the buggy’s oc­cu­pants were thrown out as it over­turned.

Aaron Hert­zler and 30-year-old Katie Hert­zler were flown to Med Star Wash­ing­ton Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter, po­lice re­port, and he­li­copter crews ar­rived at Chil­dren’s Na­tional Med­i­cal Cen­ter with the buggy’s five other pas­sen­gers — a 15-mon­thold girl, 3-year-old girl, 5-year-old girl, 7-yearold girl and an 8-yearold boy.

Four of the chil­dren had been re­leased from med­i­cal care as of Mon­day af­ter­noon, the po­lice lieu­tenant said, and the 7-year-old child and the two adults were ex­pected to be re­leased by mid­day Tues­day.

“They’re all do­ing very well,” White said. “They’re tough, and they had some good med­i­cal care.”

Price, the car’s driver, and his pas­sen­ger, 21-year-old An­thony Eu­gene Swider­ski of Aquasco, were treated at the scene by first re­spon­ders and re­leased, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

The in­jured horse was re­leased to mem­bers of the Hert­zler fam­ily. “It got up on its own power and walked away,” es­corted by the fam­ily mem­bers, the fire chief said.

In ad­di­tion to fire and res­cue vol­un­teers, and state po­lice and U.S. Park Po­lice he­li­copter crews, the St. Mary’s state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice re­sponded and is tak­ing part in the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The po­lice lieu­tenant said the buggy’s driver has not yet been in­ter­viewed, adding that wit­ness state­ments from the pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­di­cate that the group may have been re­turn­ing from a gath­er­ing on Me­chan­icsville Road when the collision oc­curred.

In 2011, a night­time collision killed a 12-year-old girl when the buggy she was rid­ing in went into the path of a pickup truck trav­el­ing on Route 5 in Char­lotte Hall, as the buggy was cross­ing the high­way from Oaks Road to Mt. Wolfe Road.

The po­lice lieu­tenant said that law of­fi­cers hope to meet with mem­bers of the Amish and Men­non­ite com­mu­ni­ties us­ing the bug­gies.

“We plan on fol­low­ing up on this, ... [to] see if we can get them to mark their ve­hi­cles a lit­tle bet­ter, specif­i­cally the sides of the ve­hi­cles,” White said, pos­si­bly with some type of re­flec­tive ma­te­rial.

“Any­thing will help,” the fire chief con­curred, while not­ing that the bug­gies gen­er­ally have some illumination in use at night.

“Usu­ally, they have plenty of [bat­tery-pow­ered] lights on them,” Trow­bridge said. “There was a bat­ter y in the buggy at the scene of [Satur­day’s] ac­ci­dent.”

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