Portage County man is charged in deadly Amish buggy crash

Associated Press Published:

CHARDON -- A Portage County man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to crashing his SUV into the back of an Amish buggy over the weekend, killing one of its occupants and injuring three others.

Douglas Learn, 42, of Mantua, was arraigned on charges that included aggravated vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The crash happened Sunday night just outside the village of Burton in Geauga County, home to about to 14,000 Amish residents. The area east of Cleveland is popular with tourists who come to buy produce and fresh baked good from Amish families.

Authorities said Learn's SUV crashed into the back of a buggy carrying five family members and kept going. The SUV became disabled about a mile from the crash, where the man was detained by Geauga County sheriff's deputies.

Chardon Municipal Court Judge Terri Stupica said Tuesday that tests after the crash showed the Learn's blood-alcohol content was .089 just after the crash, The (Willoughby) News-Herald reported. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08.

His bond was set at $75,000. A message seeking comment was left with the public defender who represented Learn at the hearing.

Joseph Byler, 28, died at a Cleveland hospital following the crash, the patrol said. His 23-year-old sister, Irene; 19-year-old sister, Alma; and 50-year-old mother, Esther, were all taken to hospitals.

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