Driver Involved in Deadly Amish Buggy Crash Charged With Homicide by Vehicle
According to court documents, Franklin-based State Police filed the following criminal charges against 55-year-old Richard Rock Stanford, of Punxsutawney, on Friday, November 20:
– Homicide By Vehicle, Felony 3 (two counts)
– Aggravated assault by vehicle, Felony 3 (two counts)
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2 (five counts)
– Careless Driving – Unintentional Death, Summary (two counts)
– Careless Driving – Serious Bodily Injury, Summary (two counts)
– Follow Too Closely, Summary
– Careless Driving, Summary
– Reckless Driving, Summary
The charges stem from a fatal crash that occurred on State Route 208 in Irwin Township in March.
According to a criminal complaint, Franklin-based State Police were dispatched to a report of a crash involving a log truck and a horse-drawn cart in the area of 2414 State Route 208 in Irwin Township, Venango County, around 3:49 p.m. on March 8, 2020.
At the scene, police observed an empty red Peterbilt log truck with fresh damage to the front passenger side fender and several pieces of what was once a black open cart/buggy in the eastbound lane of State Route 208, as well as a deceased horse on the south side of the roadway.
Venango County Coroner Christina Rugh pronounced two of the passengers of the buggy, Mary Troyer, of Harrisville, and a known 10-year-old male juvenile, dead at the scene, both due to apparent blunt force trauma. The cause of death was later confirmed by autopsy, according to the complaint.
Another male juvenile passenger was transported from the scene by ambulance for minor injuries; a female juvenile was flown from the scene by UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh; and the driver of the buggy was flown from the scene to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The female juvenile was later found to have a broken pelvis as a result of the crash, and the buggy driver suffered from severe head trauma, a broken thumb, and a broken leg.
The driver of the log truck, identified as Richard Rock Stanford, was not injured.
He was interviewed at the scene.
According to the complaint, Stanford told police he was traveling east on State Route 208 when he struck the buggy and reported he was not sure at first what he hit. He then looked in his rearview mirror and saw the horse kicking in the roadway and then stopped the truck.
The complaint notes that when asked if he was on his cell phone at the time of the crash, Stanford said he was not but added that he has “texted and drove before,” saying that “everybody does it.”
A known female witness, who was traveling behind the log truck at the time of the crash, was also interviewed at the scene.
The witness reported that at first, she thought the truck had struck a tree on the road, then saw it was an Amish buggy. She said after the log truck stopped, Stanford exited it, screaming 9-1-1. The witness then called 9-1-1, according to the complaint.
The witness also told police she was traveling approximately 55 miles per hour behind the log truck. She was unable to remember if she saw the log truck’s brake lights come on before the impact with the buggy.
The Pennsylvania State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit (CARS) investigated the crash.
According to the complaint, it was determined that the truck’s brakes were not applied in a manner in which to leave marks on the roadway prior to or upon impact with the buggy.
On the buggy’s rear portion, there was an orange slow-moving vehicle triangle and reflective DOT tape, and the buggy was also equipped with lights, but the lights were not activated at the time of the crash.
According to court documents, Stanford was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, November 20.
He is currently free on $25,000.00 unsecured bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on December 2, with Judge Lowrey presiding.
Copyright © 2020 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.