Hurt buggy riders going home from hospital
After wreck injured seven, police advocate making horsedrawn carriages more visible
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.”