Driver texting when fatal collision occurred

Authored by Jim Langham on Apr 20, 2012

The driver of a van that slammed into an Amish buggy on Indiana 124 near the intersection of County Road 400 West was texting to family members just prior to the accident.
Chandler Gerber, age 21, Bluffton, was eastbound on Indiana 124 at approximately 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning when his white 1998 GM van rear-ended an Amish buggy, which was also traveling east, causing two deaths and multiple injuries to six Amish present in the buggy.
Gerber told those investigating the scene that that the morning sun was reflecting on the roadway, making it difficult to see. He also said that he believed that he was traveling around 60 miles per hour at the time and that he had been using his cell phone to text a family member at the time.
Gerber further stated that he did not see the buggy in front of him and therefore struck it from the rear.
All six occupants were ejected from the buggy.
Enos Schwartz, age 3, of rural Decatur, died at the scene; a sister, Barbara Schwartz, age 5, was pronounced dead at Adams Memorial Hospital. Others injured included Michael Schwartz, age 16, a baby, Susan Schwartz, Jerry Schwartz, age 17 and Mary Schwartz, age 44.
The four injured victims were transferred by emergency medical services to Parkview Hospital.
Adams County Sheriff Shane Rekeweg said that a complete report of the accident would be submitted to the county prosecutor's office for review and determinations.
"It is important that all drivers realize the importance of concentrating on what they are doing," said Rekeweg. "There have been several accidents which were caused because people really weren't paying attention to what they were doing.
"It's not just texting; people can be changing the radio, reaching for something on the floor, eating, or a number of other actions that can be distracting while they are driving. People need to pay attention at all time while they are driving.
With the warmer weather coming on, things are going to become more congested with motorcycles, buggies and other smaller vehicles."
The accident remains under investigation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

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