The driver of the Explorer involved in the Sunday night fatal crash has been charged.


BURTON -- Investigators pieced together details about a fatal buggy accident Sunday evening.

Just after 3 p.m. Monday, the Geauga County Sheriff's office charged Douglas S. Learn, 42, of Ashtabula, the driver of the vehicle involved in Sunday night's Amish buggy fatal crash, with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under suspension, and aggravated vehicular homicide.

The driving under the influence and driving under suspension are both 1st degree misdemeanors.

The aggravated vehicular homicide is a felony of the 2nd degree.

Learn was taken to the Geauga County Jail where he will remain until his initial appearance at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Chardon Municipal Court.

There may be other charges as well.

According to the Geauga County Sheriff's office, the accident happened around 9 p.m. near the 15000 block of Tavern Road.

A man driving a white 1999 Ford Explorer reportedly crashed into a buggy that was carrying a family of five -- mom, dad and their three adult children.

The driver then allegedly drove off from the scene of the accident

When rescue crews arrived, they took the family members to the University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center.

28-year-old Joseph Byler died at the hospital.

One passenger, 19-year-old Alma Byler, was flown by medical helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center. She is reportedly in fair condition.

The other occupants of the buggy, 50-year-old Esther Byler, and 23-year-old Irene Byler were treated and released from the hospital. The driver of the buggy, Eli Byler, was taken to the hospital but did not need treatment.

After the initial accident, the horse broke free from the buggy and continued running down the road. The horse was then struck and killed by another car.

Police say Learn was the driver of the 1999 Ford Explorer and he told investigators that he fell asleep.

Authorities believe alcohol played a role in the deadly crash. Learn is expected to be charged this week. A court appearance has not been scheduled at this time.

Rescue squads from Troy and Middlefield Townships also responded to the scene.

Read or Share this story: