Amish parents were killed and their eight children injured after a car rear-ended their horse-drawn buggy in central Virginia on Sunday night, state police have announced.

Barbie Esh, 38, died at the scene of the horse and buggy accident. Her husband John Esh, 39, was pronounced dead later at a nearby hospital, according to police.

Their eight children, ranging in age from 9 months to 16 years, were all treated for injuries, authorities said. As of Wednesday, two have reportedly been released, while the other six are still recovering. 

State police said that the Amish family was traveling south along Route 45 in Cumberland County, when a driver in Toyota Tundra rear-ended their buggy. The driver allegedly left the scene of the accident but returned shortly after. 

Authorities said the driver was not injured, and that charges are pending. An investigation is underway. 

The horse-drawn buggy was reportedly equipped with a reflective, slow-moving vehicle sign and had working headlights and taillights, as required by law. 

Amish Community Mourns John and Barbie Esh

Families from as far as New York and Pennsylvania are expected to attend the funeral of John and Barbie Esh on Thursday, as the Amish community unites in grief. 

In a statement posted on the Toga Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page, officials said they expected “more than 400” mourners to descend on Cumberland County to attend the funeral and assist the family. 

“Please be cautious and mindful when traveling,” the statement read. “Be alert for Amish horse-and-buggies [Wednesday and] Thursday.”

“If you’re behind a buggy, don’t pass until it’s safe to do so with a clear view around them, preferably [in] a passing zone. Don’t hog or tailgate, rev your engine or blow your horns when passing.”

Virginia’s Amish community recently grew, as 10 families from northern states relocated to nearby Campbell County in September. 

At that time, local police officials urged drivers to take caution, and said that Amish buggy drivers will happily accommodate passing cars. 

“And they, in fact, will just move over to the right side of the road, slow down, or stop and let you pass,” Lieutenant J.J. Rater of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, told WSET. 

“What they don’t want is you when you go by blowing the horn because that could startle the horse and cause an issue for them.”

The Amish community from across the northeast will travel to Virigina for the funeral of John and Barbie Esh, who died in a horse and buggy accident. Their 8 children were also injured, some of them badly.
The Amish community from across the northeast will travel to Virigina for the funeral of John and Barbie Esh, who died in a horse and buggy accident. Their 8 children were also injured, some of them badly. Photo credit: Shutterstock

To assist with funeral costs, family friend Jonathan Stoltzfus set up a GoFundMe page on Monday for the benefit of the children that John and Barbie Esh leave behind.

“I would like to raise funds to help cover the hospital expenses, as all eight children were hospitalized,” Stoltzfus wrote. “Funds would also help cover funeral expenses and just general expenses that come with that.”

“Also, please pray for these eight children as they prepare to face life without their parents,” he added. 

As of Thursday, the fund drive has raised $65,802 of its $100,000 goal. 

Amish Buggy Accidents Tragically Common

The deadly crash that killed John and Barbie Esh is the second traffic accident involving horse and buggy in Virginia this month. 

On Oct. 13, two adults were seriously injured when their buggy was rear-ended by a driver in a Jeep Cherokee. One of the horses pulling the carriage was badly hurt and later euthanized at the request of the owner, according to WSET. 

The driver of the Jeep was not injured.

In Lancaster, Wisconsin on Oct. 4, five riders were violently thrown from their buggy when a minivan rear-ended them on the highway, according to police.  

Linda Miller, 52, and Daniel Miller, 12, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. 

Mervin Miller, 50, Nathan Miller, 14, and Rachael Miller, 7, suffered life-threatening injuries, according to local reports. They were taken to a nearby hospital but were later transferred to a larger facility in Madison for their treatment. 

Both accidents bear striking similarities to the one that killed John and Barbie Esh.