An elderly motorist whose SUV slammed into the back of a horse-drawn buggy on a southern Michigan road, killing three Amish children from the same family, will not be charged, a prosecutor's office said Wednesday.
Because of his age, the coronavirus pandemic and his lack of a criminal history, it’s unlikely that Ronald Ramsey, 84, would spend time in jail if he were charged and convicted in the Sept. 18, 2019, collision, the Eaton County prosecutor's office said in a news release.
“After a complete analysis of the case and possible consequences, the conclusion was reached that formal charging and conviction of Ramsey was not likely to accomplish more than a conviction on paper,” the office said. “The ends of justice would not be advanced by such a prosecution.”
The three siblings — ages 8, 10 and 13 — were killed and their 6-year-old brother was hurt when their buggy was struck on a road near Charlotte, about 105 miles (170 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. They were heading home from school at the time.
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The buggy was properly marked with lights and a slow-moving vehicle triangle, and it was on right side of the road when it was struck. One of the children was wearing a reflective safety vest.
Ramsey, of Vermontville, was travelling 60 mph in a 55 mph zone and told investigators that he didn’t see the buggy until his Chevy Equinox hit it.
“I relive that every day, especially with three little ones gone,” Ramsey told The Associated Press during a phone call Wednesday. “I can’t help but relive it.”
Ramsey said he no longer drives.
He could have been charged with three misdemeanor counts of committing a moving violation that caused a death, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail. The three counts would have been served at the same time, according to the prosecutor's office statement.
Ramsey’s driving privileges were suspended for a year. Before he'd be allowed to drive again, he would have to pass a vision exam, a written knowledge test and a road test.
“The decision to not charge Ronald Ramsey for the crash is not a statement about his criminal culpability, rather a decision that charging him would not be likely to result in any additional sanction or punishment,” the prosecutor's office said.
The children’s parents were consulted before the decision was made to not charge Ramsey was made, it said.