By Francis Scarcella

The Daily Item

MILTON — A Boyertown woman charged in a Dec. 27 hit-and-run told Milton state police she was unsure whether the van she was driving struck the horse-drawn buggy in upper Northumberland County.

A white, older-model van traveling east on Route 54 at 7:39 that evening hit the buggy about a half-mile east of Seagrave Road in Delaware Township. The collision sent the buggy, carrying four people, onto its side, and breaking the leg of a 4-year-old girl.

Jessica Fenstermacher, of Boyertown, heard about the accident on the news the next day, according to state police a Milton. She called the Milton barracks, said she'd been in the area, that she may have hit the buggy, but wasn't sure.

That's hard to believe, Milton trooper Matt Burrows said Friday.

"Do you really think you would not know if you hit a buggy?" he said. "Someone that has nothing to hide would stop and wait for the authorities."

The van — believed to have damage to its front passenger side near the headlight where it hit the rear of the buggy — didn't stop and wait for authorities. It continued on toward Turbotville, leaving Levi Glick, 27, his wife, Mattie, 24, and two children waiting to be taken to Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg.

On Wednesday, Fenstermacher was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and careless driving. A hearing date has not been set.

Reached by telephone Friday, Fenstermacher declined to comment.

Drivers who flee from an accident more than likely have something they don't want anyone to know or find, Burrows said.

"If you leave the scene, it tells me that there are other issues going on," he said.

Isaac Reiff, owner of the Vicksburg Buggy Shop, says a typical buggy weighs about 500 pounds.

"To take a jolt from an automobile at normal speed would do a lot of damage, not only to the buggy but the people as well," he said Friday. "It's impossible to not know you hit a buggy. It just sounds odd."

The Dec. 27 crash was at least the fifth between an automobile and horse-drawn buggy in the Valley 2009. The accidents injured at least 11 people and claimed the life of a 7-year-old Winfield boy in October near New Berlin. Two of the accidents occurred in Snyder and Northumberland counties, and one in Union County.

Encounters with buggies are not confined to back roads. Some of the region's most heavily traveled roads — Routes 11-15 in Port Trevorton, Route 104 in Union and Snyder counties, Route 45 between Mifflinburg and Lewisburg, and Route 54 in Northumberland and Montour counties — go through Amish and Mennonite communities.

While accidents involving horse-drawn buggies and automobiles are rare, "They do happen every now and again," Burrows said.

All buggies must obey regular traffic laws, according to the Pennsylvania Horse and Buggy driver's manual. Pennsylvania law requires that four-way flashers be used on all horse-drawn buggies at night and that headlights be turned on at dusk, so the buggy is visible to automobiles.

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