Car vs. horse & buggy accident victims improving

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
The Hornings' buggy being removed from the scene.
William Valentin's car.

PENN YAN – An elderly Mennonite husband and wife from Penn Yan were severely injured Wednesday afternoon, July 21 when their horse and buggy was rear-ended by an automobile just north of Penn Yan.

IVAN HORNING, 80, and ELLA HORNING, 79, were northbound on the shoulder of Route 14A near the intersection with North Main Street near the village limits. There, the buggy was struck from behind by a black Chevrolet Impala driven by WILLIAM VALENTIN, 55, of Geneva. The Hornings were ejected from the buggy, and the horse bolted from the scene.

Yates County sheriff’s deputies, Penn Yan Police, Fire Department, and Ambulance Corps, Medic 55, and Yates County Emergency Management responded as did helicopters from Mercy Flight and Lifenet. The Hornings were airlifted to the trauma center at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester with severe injuries. Valentin was uninjured. The horse was found later at a farm on Stape Road, and was checked over by an East View veterinarian.

The accident scene at the intersection of Route 14A and North Main Street in Penn Yan.

Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike called the crash, "another sad event of not sharing the roadway." The Yates County Accident Investigation Team was called for reconstruction. Deputies were able to rule out any intoxication or substance being involved with on-scene testing. Spike says contributing factors include distraction or inattention and vehicle speed. Criminal Investigators are doing other forensic tests involving equipment related to the vehicle, including a cell phone. Valentin has been charged with failing to exercise due caution in approaching a horse, and following too closely. He will appear at a later date in Benton Town Court.

“We have discussed this case with the District Attorney Todd Casella for consideration of criminal negligence assault by a vehicle charges,” said Spike, “DA Casella has agreed to present the matter to the next session of the Yates County Grand Jury for their consideration if criminal charges are appropriate.”

The Hornings founded the well-known local business, Hornings' Greenhouse in 1980, now run by their son, Jere Horning, and where Ella still works. In a telephone interview with The Chronicle-Express Thursday morning, Jere said that Ivan has suffered multiple back and neck fractures but is conscious. He also suffered a brain bleed, but after monitoring with multiple scans, doctors say that appears to have stopped. Ella has severe fractures to a femur and several ribs, and a large head contusion. She was not conscious at the scene, but regained consciousness afterward. Both victims face months of recovery.

Jere said how much his family appreciates all the well wishes of the community: "It's really touching how many people have called to ask." He also expressed his thanks to the deputies, firemen, and EMS personnel who responded and treated his parents. A first responder himself in Benton Fire Department and a past chief, he said he was grateful the crash happened just a half mile south of his district where he would have been one of the first on the scene.

"Most people don't really appreciate the trauma those people face responding to accidents like this," said Jere. "If I had been there, they would have had to pull me back because of the added stress from them being my parents."

TRAGEDY REPEATED

This type of accident, motor vs. non-motor vehicle, has been happening with increasing frequency in the Yates County area. 

• Just five weeks ago, a fatal car vs. horse & buggy accident occurred Sunday, June 13 on Route 364 near Voak Road. That collision resulted in the death of Ada Horning, 67, of East Swamp Road, Penn Yan, who died at the scene. (No relation to Ivan or Ella Horning.) Ada’s husband, Mahlon Horning, 66, was taken by Lifenet helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital. The driver of the car was charged with following too closely and  failure to exercise due care when approaching a horse. 

• Last summer, a car vs. horse & buggy accident occurred Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020 on East Sherman Hollow Road west of Penn Yan. The horse & buggy were driven by Matthew Sensenig, 33, of Italy-Friend Road, Penn Yan, with his wife, Katrina, and their five children: Eric Sensenig, age 9; Lynelle Sensenig, age 7; Jonathan Sensenig, age 5; Glendon Sensenig, age 3; Harlan Sensenig, age 7 months. According to Spike, as the car driver started to pass the buggy, another vehicle approached in the opposing lane and he collided with the buggy causing it to leave the roadway and smash apart, ejecting all seven members of the Sensenig family into the ditch and field. Matthew and his wife suffered head injuries. Their 7-year-old received multiple and serious injuries, and their 7-month-old baby had internal injuries.

• On Jan. 6, 2016, a Mennonite couple were ejected from a buggy hit by a car. Spike reported that Katherine Martin, 53, and Meno Martin, 54, both of Baldwin Road, Penn Yan, were ejected from their horse-drawn buggy on Lovejoy Road, about 1/2 mile south of the intersection with Havens Corners Road in Benton. They were also taken to Strong Memorial and were listed in guarded condition at the time.

• In December 2009, four members of the Martin family of Mumby Road, Canandaigua, were injured when their buggy was struck from behind by a car on County Road 18 in Gorham. Mable Martin, 43, Louis Martin, 49, Judith Martin, 14, and Jessica Martin, 10, were all taken to Strong Memorial Hospital for treatment. The driver of the car told deputies that sun glare prevented him from seeing the buggy until it was too late to avoid the crash.

• Perhaps the saddest of this long history of these types of accidents turns back to the Horning family of Benton. April 9, 1992, Ivan and Ella’s oldest son, Mervin Horning, 29, was struck from behind and killed by a 22-year-old female driver from Romulus, as he was bicycling to work on Route 14A near Baldwin Road, barely a mile from where his parents came so close to death themselves nearly three decades later. According to reports at the time, Mervin suffered a fractured skull and spine, was resuscitated at the scene, and was flown by the newly formed Mercy Flight to Arnot Ogden Hospital in Elmira, where he died eight hours later. He left behind his wife, Ruth, and three children. The driver of the car was ticketed for failure to exercise adequate care while driving.