Fire Departments Donate Buggy To Safety Village To Promote Caution

Four area fire departments donated an Amish buggy to the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village. Pictured from the left are Mike Swanson, Ashville fire chief; Matt Oehlbeck, Sherman fire chief; Ed Faulkner, Clymer fire chief; Vernon Sheldon Jr., Panama fire chief; Mike Gleason, past fire chief for the Ashville Fire Department; and Terri Kindberg, executive director for the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village. P-J photo by Jimmy McCarthy

ASHVILLE — Little travelers will be alerted to a new item as they drive in the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village.

A child-sized Amish buggy was recently donated to the Safety Village by four area fire departments. The idea originated following a conversation between local fire chiefs and Terri Kindberg, executive director for the Children’s Safety Education Village, over recent accidents involving vehicles and buggies.

In September, two incidents occurred between vehicles and buggies. On Sept. 8, three Amish occupants in a buggy were injured after the horse became spooked by a passing vehicle on Clymer-Sherman Road in Clymer. The buggy rolled off the road as it became separated from the horse.

A few weeks later, a vehicle-buggy incident occurred in Panama. The buggy carrying five occupants was struck by a vehicle on Weeks Road. One occupant died in the crash while the others sustained injuries.

“We thought it would be great to bring an Amish buggy to the village,” Kindberg said. “It’s important to start teaching children at a young age to pay attention to traffic signs, slow down and be aware of what’s on the road.”

The buggy was donated by the Clymer, Sherman, Ashville and Panama fire departments, all of which were on scene during the incidents.

Vernon Sheldon Jr., Panama fire chief, was one of those who initiated the idea of a donation. Sheldon Jr. said he thought it was a good idea to give back and bring awareness to other users of area roads.

Sheldon Jr. said the buggy donation could also make children alert of signs when traveling with their parents out on the road.

“There’s nothing that’s never been taught either about how to respond when you’re coming to an intersection and there’s a horse there. Not all horses are gentle,” he said. “They might be hot and might want to go. Anytime they could be coming out in front of you, so people should pay attention. That’s something that the Safety Village can instill in these young children and hopefully make them aware to it.”

The Amish buggy, built by Amish local Alan Leslein, will be placed in an area of the Safety Village where little travelers can safely pass it. The buggy is an exact replica of a life-sized buggy with reflectors and a slow moving vehicle sign attached to the back.

The buggy will be used as part of traffic safety classes that take place at the village. New curriculum was recently added to the program to include awareness of slow moving vehicles including Amish buggies and farm tractors.

For adult motorists on the road, Kindberg and the fire chiefs are urging them to be aware of Amish areas and slow down when approaching a buggy or tractor.

“We need to know when it is safe to pass a slow moving vehicle,” Kindberg said. “And mostly, we need to remember that the people driving or riding are someone’s mother or father, child or friend. Every life matters, and as drivers, we have to be more aware and conscious of the area we are driving in and what could be ahead.”

The Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village is located at 2695 Route 394 in Ashville. The purpose of the Safety Village is to educate children primarily in the areas of traffic, bike and fire safety.