Ky. Amish teen killed when SUV strikes buggy

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2011 7:04 PM
Ky. Amish teen killed when SUV strikes buggy

An Amish teenager was killed when the horse-drawn buggy he was driving without a safety reflector was struck from behind by a sport-utility vehicle in south-central Kentucky.

Aaron Byler, 18, of Cub Run was thrown from the buggy by the collision late Thursday afternoon and died while being airlifted to a hospital.

Dozens of Amish were at the Byler family's farm Friday in Hart County to pay their respects. There were about 16 buggies parked at the farm, and all had reflective orange safety triangles.

Byler was not driving a traditional buggy, but a two-wheeled cart that was low to the ground, said a neighbor who was visiting the family Friday afternoon and wished to be identified only with his last name as Mr. Miller. Many Amish decline to identify themselves to reporters and reject outward signs of pride or self-publicity.

Miller said Byler had stopped on the road less than a mile from his farm to give his younger brother a ride when the SUV struck Byler from behind.

Miller said the Amish in the area commonly display the reflective slow-moving vehicle signs on their buggies. He didn't know why Byler's cart Byler didn't have a sign.

"Like boys do, he didn't have it on," he said.

The farm is located on a narrow winding state highway in a hilly section of south-central Kentucky. Nearby Munfordville is home to one of the state's largest Amish settlements.

Michael Riggs, the driver of the 1992 Chevrolet Blazer that struck Byler's buggy, was taken to a local hospital Thursday, where he was treated and released.

Police say the crash remains under investigation.

James Craddock of neighboring Edmonson County was dropping off a half-dozen Amish at the Byler home Friday.

The retired construction worker said the road handles a lot of Amish buggy traffic, and many buggies are fitted with signs, flashing lights, headlights and even turn signals.

"They are safety-conscious," He said.

Some counties have been stepping up enforcement of Amish buggy drivers who don't use the orange triangle reflectors. Police have said the reflective symbols help motorists _ even in the daytime _ see the dark-colored buggies on the roadway.

Amish men in at least three western Kentucky counties have been cited for refusing to use the reflective triangles on their buggies. The men, who belong to a conservative sect of Amish called Old Order Swartzentruber, said they are opposed to using the triangles because of religious reasons.

John Hostetler, a Graves County Amish man cited for not using the signs, filed a paper in court on Monday providing reasons why he and others reject the slow-moving vehicle signs. Hostetler said the triangle is the symbol of the Christian (Holy) Trinity, and they consider the orange color too "flashy."

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Associated Press writer Dylan Lovan in Louisville contributed to this story.