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Crash highlights safety needs

On Saturday on my way to Oxford for the Ole Miss game I quickly came to a halt on Highway 6 and followed the detoured trail of cars that took a peaceful journey through Thaxton in Pontotoc County.

Knowing the highway is generally only shut down by law enforcement so a helicopter can land, I was concerned about what was happening on Highway 6. Luckily I have friends in Pontotoc County who pushed out the news immediately and I was in the know quickly. A horse-drawn buggy with three Amish family members was rear-ended by a pickup truck.

The horse died there at the scene. The father driving the buggy died Sunday night. The mother and daughter were both hospitalized after the crash.

I’m incredibly grateful I was diverted and did not have to see the scene, like many people headed to the game likely did.

Being an animal lover, I have always taken issue with horse carriages on public roadways, whether it is a post-wedding carriage ride or a ride down a busy tumultuous New York City street. I have a hard time visiting places like New Orleans, Nashville, Savannah and even Natchez where horses are put to work next to rapidly moving traffic and have to encounter drunken tourists and frequently honking automobiles. My friends have come to terms with the fact they will be standing on a corner at some point during a trip while I grill a carriage driver about the horse’s hours, shoes, stables, etc.

So I obviously don’t support an Amish buggy on Highway 6 where traffic is zooming by at 90 mph or even on a slow 30 mph roadway. However, it is not my decision. The Mississippi Highway Patrol deems a horse buggy as a vehicle with full rights to the roadway, including Highway 6, as long as it abides by its 30 mph speed limit minimum, which currently is under investigation in this crash.

This is a tragedy for the family, the Amish community and their friends throughout Pontotoc County. Residents of Pontotoc County take pride in having Amish families in its Randoph community and are aware of their horse buggies in town, which helps cut down on crashes.

However, after talking to a friend in Pennsylvania who grew up in a large Amish territory, I firmly believe the Amish and their horses deserve better accommodations in Pontotoc. Horses are regularly just sitting in scalding hot parking lots throughout town, simply tied to light poles.

I urge the officials and movers and shakers of Pontotoc and Pontotoc County to step up to the plate and make their community safer for the Amish.

Stephanie Rebman is editor of the Oxford Eagle.
Contact her at stephanie.rebman@oxfordeagle.com.