ALGANSEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The driver charged with hitting an Amish horse-drawn carriage, killing three children, told detectives he “had too many.”
Tyler Jackson Frye, 21, of Angola, Indiana, is charged with three counts of operating under the influence causing death, two counts of operating under the influence causing serious injury and one count of felony firearm.
The crash happened around 6 p.m. Friday on Kelly Road south of Lester Road in Branch County’s Algansee Township, about 52 miles southeast of Battle Creek.
According to documents from Branch County District Court, Frye told police he had six beers throughout the day before the crash. He told investigators he was cresting a hill when he saw the southbound buggy and couldn’t stop.
“It’s a straight roadway with several small hills and unfortunately the pickup truck struck the buggy from behind,” Michigan State Police Sgt. Seth Reed said.
A family of seven, including five children, was thrown from the buggy when Frye rear-ended it, MSP says. A 2-year-old and 6-year-old died at the scene.
The surviving passengers were taken to Parkview Hospital in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. A 4-year-old boy died Saturday at Bronson. A 3-year-old has life-threatening injuries.
Reed said the mother was injured, but the father and another small child miraculously were not seriously hurt.
The names of the victims in the carriage have not been released.
Investigators say a portable breath test showed Frye’s blood alcohol content level was .108, above the legal limit of .08.
In court documents, authorities said Frye admitted to rear-ending the carriage. When he was asked to take a field sobriety test, he refused, saying, “What’s the point? I have had too many.”
Court documents also say a search of Frye’s vehicle turned up a handgun.
Jessica Cutler, who lives near the crash site, said it’s common to see carriages in the area. She said she wants justice for her Amish neighbors.
“I think they’re all going to pull together like they do,” Cutler said. “I’m hoping that people will start paying attention more and really be on lookout now that this has happened again because this isn’t the first accident.”
Frye has a court hearing scheduled for June 20.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated the portable breath test happened after Frye refused the field sobriety tests. We regret this error, which has been corrected.***