Three children were killed and a fourth was critically injured when a vehicle struck a horse-drawn buggy Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 18, in southern Michigan, authorities said. The children were ages 6 to 13.
The four Amish siblings were believed to be traveling home from school Wednesday around 3:20 p.m. when a vehicle struck the buggy from behind along the Vermontville Highway near Charlotte, Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich told the Lansing State Journal.
After arriving at the scene, emergency personnel found three of the children were dead at the scene. The fourth, a 6-year-old boy, was “seriously injured” and rushed to a hospital. The motor vehicle driver, who was described as elderly, was taken to a hospital for evaluation, the sheriff said.
The names of the children and the driver of the vehicle were not immediately released, and police have not released a cause for the crash.
“It’s a horrible, horrible tragedy,” Reich said. “My heart goes out to the family.”
Sheriff’s detectives and the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Crash Reconstruction Team are investigating the crash.
“We’re trying to do everything we can through our victim advocates, through our support personnel, to provide as much aid and comfort as we can to them and help them deal with horrific tragedy. It’s an unspeakable loss for any parent to lose their children in a manner like this is just difficult to imagine,” Jeffery Cook, Eaton County undersheriff, said.
The highway was closed for nearly five hours after the crash.
Leroy Lambright, an Amish man and friend of the family, told WOOD-TV that the community has rallied around the children’s family and won’t hold any resentment against the man who allegedly hit them.
“We’re not going to hold anything against him. That’s not the way we—we don’t hold anything against him,” Lambright said.
Jerri Nesbitt of the Eaton County Sheriff’s office, told PEOPLE on Friday that the 6-year-old boy is in stable condition at Sparrow Hospital and “he had a good night.”
The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office said it had no plans to release the victim’s identities.
Nesbitt said that the family would like their privacy respected at this time.