A pickup truck slammed into a horse-drawn carriage in Missouri on Thursday, killing an eight-year-old Mennonite boy and seriously injuring four members of his family, including two other children.
The crash happened at around 6.45am in a remote area of St Francois County, about 80 miles southwest of St Louis, the Highway Patrol said.
The Mennonite family was headed to pick blueberries at a nearby farm when the truck came up from behind and crashed into it.
‘The truck went over the top of it. It’s literally destroyed,’ patrol Cpl Juston Wheetley told the St Louis Post-Dispatch of the carriage.
The eight-year-old died at the scene.
The other two children, ages 10 and 12, were taken to St Louis Children’s Hospital with serious injuries.
The injured adults, ages 50 and 28, were also seriously hurt and were taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, authorities said. The 19-year-old driver of the carriage wasn’t injured.
Authorities haven’t released the names of those involved in the crash.
The 19-year-old pickup truck’s driver and his passenger were not hurt, and the driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with police, Wheetley said.
He said the crash happened on a straight stretch of the two-lane highway and that the carriage had an orange safety placard attached, adding that it isn’t clear how fast the truck was going.
Missouri law allows horse-drawn carriages to use the traffic lane as long as an orange ‘slow-moving’ sign is visible on the rear.
‘They did have the proper placard on it,’ Wheetley said. ‘We know it had a sign because it is laying behind the carriage. We can tell it was on the carriage.’
St Francois county’s Mennonite community was established just two years ago, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Wheetley said Mennonite and Amish carriages have previously been struck by motorized vehicles in Missouri, but that Thursday’s crash was the most ‘severe’ he was aware of in that area.
‘I want to remind people when they’re out traveling, they have a right to be there,’ he said. ‘We should always pay attention so things like this don’t happen in the future.’
Liberty Blueberry Farms announced that it would close early on Thursday, the last day of the blueberry season, because of a ‘tragic loss’.
There have been other similar fatal wrecks in recent years, including last month in Algansee Township in southern Michigan, when a pickup truck slammed into a horse-drawn carriage, killing three young Amish children and seriously injuring one other and their mother.
The 21-year-old pickup truck’s driver was charged with drunken driving causing death and serious injury.
In October of 2017, a truck crashed into a buggy near Sheridan, Michigan, killing three children whose family was on its way to a Sunday service.
The 29-year-old truck driver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor moving violation charges.
Horse-drawn carriages typically travel between 10 and 15 miles per hour, depending on the fitness of the animal.
SOURCE: Daily Mail – Megan Sheets, AP