Three Amish children were killed and a fourth seriously injured when a car slammed into the family's horse-drawn buggy in rural Michigan, authorities said Thursday.
The tragic collision happened just before 3:19 p.m. Wednesday on Vermontville Highway in Chester Township, about 110 miles west of Detroit, according to the Eaton County Sheriff's Department.
The children had finished school for the day and were headed to a blacksmith to have their horse fitted with new shoes. They were traveling west when the car, driven by an 83-year-old man, plowed into them from behind, killing the three children and their horse, officials said. The 6-year-old is expected to survive his head and leg injuries.
The driver has not been charged, and the investigation was continuing on Friday, officials said.
“It is difficult to find words to describe this horrific tragedy," Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said in a statement. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents who are enduring such unimaginable loss and grief, and also to their extended family and close community. "
Reich said of the family: "We grieve with them.”
"I have no words," family friend Natalie Sharpes said in a tearful interview with NBC affiliate WILX-TV. "Surreal. Unimaginable."
Sharpes is among the community's non-Amish who drive the traditionalist Christians on errands around the area. Amish do not allow themselves to operate motor vehicles, but will accept rides.
The deadly crash has shaken the entire community, Amish and non-Amish alike.
"I bawled all the way home," local driver Kevin Newton, who knew the three victims, told the Lansing State Journal. "They've got to do something, pass a law or something. They should have more (warning) signs out."