ADAMS COUNTY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- On Friday, April 5, 2013, an Adams County Circuit Court Grand Jury determined that no criminal charges would be filed as a result of an April 17, 2012, accident involving a van and horse drawn vehicle west of Monroe.
Below is the release from the Adams County Prosecutors Office:
Chandler T. Gerber was operating said van when it collided with a buggy containing several members of the Martin Schwartz family including his wife, Mary, sons Jerry, Michael and Enos, and daughters Barbara and Susan. Jerry, Barbara and Enos Schwartz were killed as a result of said accident while Mary suffered serious injuries.
The Grand Jury heard three days of testimony from eyewitnesses, first responders and investigators and reviewed Indiana’s legal history of fatal traffic collisions before deliberating several hours. “The jurors were very attentive and took their charge seriously,” said Christopher E. Harvey. “Ultimately, the grand jury found that while Mr. Gerber was negligent, even grossly negligent in his actions, his conduct did not amount to recklessness under Indiana law.
Harvey stated that “the Grand Jury – which consists of six citizens - is well-suited to evaluate fatal traffic collisions, which in part involves a determination whether or not the driver substantially deviated from acceptable standards of conduct.” Indiana’s appellate courts have consistently stated that proof that an accident arose out of the inadvertence, lack of attention, forgetfulness or thoughtfulness of the driver of a vehicle, or from an error of judgment on his part, will not support a charge of reckless homicide. The Indiana General Assembly has chosen a policy regarding fatal traffic collisions that neither "negligent homicide" nor "vehicular homicide" is a crime in Indiana.
Indiana's NewsCenter report from 2012:
Police say it happened near the intersection of State Road 124 and County Road 400 west when the van rear-ended the buggy.
21 year old Chandler Gerber, the driver of the van was not injured in the crash. Gerber stated that he believes he was traveling around 60 miles per hour and he had been using his phone to text a family member at the time of the crash. He also stated that the morning sun was reflecting off the roadway making it difficult to see. Gerber did not see the buggy traveling in front of him and struck the buggy from behind.
The buggy was carrying six people and all of them were ejected. Three year old Enos Schwartz died at the scene, five year old Barbara Schwartz was pronounced dead at the emergency room of the hospital. The other four occupants 17 year old Jerry Schwartz, 16 year old Michael Schwartz, 4 month old Susan Schwartz and 44 year old Mary Schwartz were all transported to an area hospital.
The buggy's horse was also injured and had to be put down.
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