A shopping trip ended in tragedy Monday night when a Berks County couple's horse-drawn buggy was struck by an SUV.
The Mennonite couple were almost home from the Lowe's store in Muhlenberg Township when the accident happened around 10:20 p.m. in the 800 block of Park Road in Maidencreek Township, near Fleetwood, police said.
"I just heard a crash like a big boom," said Janet Miller, who lives in a retirement community close to the scene of the accident.
"All of a sudden we saw these lights being put up on the highway, and they were flares," said Vera Correll, who also lives in the same community.
The driver of the SUV told police he didn't see the buggy and struck it from behind, throwing both the husband and wife to the ground, said officials, adding that both victims suffered serious injuries. They were rushed to the trauma center at Reading Hospital.
Laura Ringler, 27, died about 90 minutes later of head and neck injuries, the coroner said. A family friend told 69 News that Ringler was pregnant and due in January with her second child, but the coroner said tests are still pending.
Ringler's husband, Jonathan Ringler, was last reported to be hospitalized in good condition.
The driver of the SUV, David Figura, 54, of Sinking Spring, was not injured, police said.
The horse pulling the buggy suffered near-fatal injuries in the crash and was put down by a police officer on the scene, officials said.
"We don't see too many horse-and-buggy accidents in Berks County," said Dennis Hess, the Berks County coroner.
The buggy was traveling with working head and tail lights, as required by law, at the time of the accident, Hess said.
"It only takes a split second for this to happen, and by the time you see it, it's mere seconds until impact," said Hess.