PLUMVILLE, Pa. -- Ambulance drivers in rural Indiana County are accustomed to seeing horse-drawn Amish buggies, so they take certain precautions.
Not using a siren is one of them, said Fred Catchpole of Clymer, an emergency medical technician.
But even that precaution couldn't help early Wednesday when a horse pulling a buggy abruptly turned into the path of the ambulance Catchpole was driving.
"I feel bad about the horse," said Catchpole, 60.
The horse was badly injured and had to be euthanized after the accident at 2:40 a.m. on Pollock Road in East Mahoning Township, state police Trooper John Matchik said.
Citizens Ambulance of Plumville was responding to an emergency call with its lights flashing but no sirens, Catchpole said. The ambulance was traveling east on the rural road when Catchpole saw the buggy approaching from the opposite direction.
"I saw the buggy coming up over the top of the hill," and then it drifted into the ambulance's side of the road, Catchpole said. "When we see an Amish buggy, we use a lot of caution."
Police said the horse abruptly turned into the ambulance's path and the two collided.
Matchik said the accident is under investigation, and the driver of the buggy could face charges. Horse-drawn buggy operators are subjected to the same codes as motor vehicle drivers, he said.
Henry Byler, 19, of Smicksburg had picked up a female from a wedding party in the area, and the pair were on their way home when the accident occurred, the trooper said.
"We believe the operator either fell asleep or had been distracted for whatever reason," Matchik said.
Only the horse was injured.
Citizens Ambulance officials did not return a call seeking comment.