Operating under influence cited as factor in vehicle versus buggy crash
Operating under the influence of a controlled substance and inattentive driving area being cited as factors in a Nov. 24 fatal collision between a minivan and a horse drawn buggy that sent eight people to area hospitals with severe injuries. According to sheriff Larry Woebbeking, investigation is currently ongoing but preliminary findings indicate the Amish buggy was traveling north bound on County Highway E with 10 occupants. A vehicle being operated by 35-year-old Skyler M. Opelt of Medford was also North bound on County Highway E approaching the buggy from behind. The vehicle being operated by Skyler Opelt overtook the buggy about a half mile north of the intersection with Pine Ave. and struck it from behind at highway speeds. At approximately 2:44 p.m. November 24, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting a vehicle had collided with an Amish buggy near the address of N1754 County Highway E in the Town of Little Black, Taylor County. It was further reported that there were multiple and significant injuries. Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies along with Medford Ambulance, Owen Ambulance and Fire, Stetsonville Fire, Gilman Ambulance, Thorp Ambulance, Medevac and medical helicopters were dispatched. Once emergency responders arrived on scene, they found 9 people injured including children and their parents. Preliminary reports indicate at least 8 of 9 required medical transport with significant injuries. On November 26, the mother of the children succumbed to her injuries. Opelt is currently in custody at the Taylor County jail. Operating under the influence of a controlled substance and inattentive driving are believed to be factors in the collision. Opelt is no stranger to the criminal justice system having numerous felony convictions related to methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia possession. Opelt is currently being held in the Taylor County Jail. Charges being referred to the District Attorney’s office at this time are:
- Seven counts of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance Causing Injury
- Homicide by Negligent Operation of a Vehicle
- 2nd Degree Reckless Injury
- Opelt was currently on probation at the time of the incident and is also being held on a probation hold as a result of this incident.