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Ozark crash injures Michigan man, kills mule team
Posted by Bob L. at 2013-07-25 19:59:41

LITTLE ROCK — A 68-year-old man driving a mule-drawn covered wagon from Michigan to Oklahoma to raise awareness about U.S. military veterans was recovering Thursday in a Fayetteville veterans hospital from injuries he sustained in a highway crash in Ozark that killed his animals.

Charles Peters suffered apparent rib injuries when a vehicle struck the mule team pulling his wagon and a trailer about 7 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. 64 in Ozark, city police Lt. Jonathan Little said Thursday.

Peters was taken to Mercy Hospital-Turner Memorial in Ozark and later transferred to the veterans hospital in Fayetteville, Little said.

One of the mules died at the scene and the other died overnight, the officer said.

Little said Peters was traveling westbound on the highway when a pickup driven by 18-year-old Brandy Summers struck the covered wagon from behind. Summers was not injured.

“The other vehicle was westbound … and the wagon was rear-ended, which kind of spun it sideways and the truck kept going forward and ended up coming to rest on top of the two mules,” Little said. “She said that she looked down at something in her vehicle and when she looked back up the sun was glaring in her eyes, which that’s right that time of day on that area, and she didn’t even see the wagon.”

No charges had been filed Thursday. Little said the accident was still under investigation.

Peters, from Owosso, Mich., was riding from his home to Oklahoma to raise awareness about U.S. military veterans and visit his father’s grave outside Oklahoma City.

According to a May 30 article in the Greene County Daily World in Linton, Ind., Peters, a retired machinist for General Motors, departed his home May 1 and had hoped to arrive in Okemah, Okla., where his father is buried, in early August.

Peters told the newspaper that the trip was about 1,100 miles and that he was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam. He said he got the idea for the trip about three years ago after a man thanked him for his military service in an antique store.

“I told him, ‘You are the first person in 45 years to tell me that.’ I felt so good about it, I told my wife I am going to do something for veterans, so this (trip) is what I came up with,” he told the Indiana newspaper.

Peters built the wagon and trailer and purchased two mules for the trip.

His accident was the second in recent weeks involving participants in a cross-country trip.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old woman died from injuries she sustained when a car struck her and six other bicyclists on Arkansas 17 near McCrory in Woodruff County.

The riders, with Overland Summer Camp based in Massachusetts, were traveling coast to coast.

The driver of the vehicle, 21-year-old Teagan Ross Martin of Newport, was not injured.

State police are still investigating the collision, a spokesman said Thursday.
Response by Nick from MI at 2013-07-26 06:41:44
Dang, too bad. At least he is ok. I bet it was a cell phone related.
Response by Jonathan Shively at 2013-07-26 08:18:04
Let me play devil's advocate here for a bit. Why do these people plan such adventures then take to the highways and interstates? I was coming home from a family reunion for my wife's family and a bunch of bicyclers were on the interstate! I realize county roads are less convenient but if I were planning a cross country trip, especially in this day and age, it would be county roads. They need to get off of the main roads, people are not diligent in their driving or intelligent enough to be gracious.
Response by Bob L. at 2013-07-26 11:11:30
I've read more than one of these stories where the "teamster" really didn't have much experience.

I'm not certain this was the case here but from reading he built the wagon & bought the team just for this trip.

It's to bad though his dream seems to have been shattered. I hope he will attempt to finish it. Maybe better route planning.
Response by NoraWI at 2013-07-26 11:25:50
I'm with you on that, Jonathan! But even on country roads I felt I took my life in my hands and finally quit driving horses except on my own property which got old pretty fast. So many drivers are impatient and rude. A friend recently got his SUV totaled by a driver who hit him broadside when he was 3/4 way through an intersection. She hit him so hard his SUV flipped on its side and skidded 300 feet. She was on her way to a nearby gas station to buy a cookie before someone came to pick her up for the day. She was also talking on her cell phone and, of course, had no insurance.
Response by Randle at 2013-07-26 13:07:45
Completely agree Jonathan. Especially about the 'intellegent' and 'diligent' part. Too many gadgets in today's vehicles lead to too many poor drivers being even worse than before. I refuse to any longer be a passenger when my sister is driving because she talks and texts on her cell phone half the time...even after I was hit by a car (he was texting) while riding my bicycle to the barn for evening chores. I was laid up four months...and she STILL doesn't get why I get mad at her!!

You make a good point Bob. Papers are notorious for poor story writing, especially involving horses, so that COULD be the case here. But based on my experience with horses out in public, too many people don't understand what a REAL teamster is or the skill/art involved in working horses and mules. People get 'first-time-lucky' and think they know it all, when in fact they just had a very forgiving and intelligent equine!
Response by Klaus Karbaumer at 2013-07-26 17:43:50
Due to the growing peril on the road ( cell phones, texting, etc. in addition to the widespread attention deficit disorder) teamsters really should think twice if they want to go on a road used by the generally driving too fast public. They imperil themselves and like in this case also their animals which are guilty only of good-naturedly doing what their owner tells them to do.
I wrote it here before, much to my amazement I realized that crisscrossing the country in Germany by horse was easier than here even though the country is much more densely populated and traffic is much heavier. That is due to the fact that many field-paths are connecting the farms with each other and their fields and these are accessible to the public. Maybe in some areas of the USA where such paths or trails exist(if they do ) teamsters would have it easier.
Response by Dave at 2013-07-26 20:06:03
It's evolution at work. Who in their right mind would take their team out along the interstate? What could possibly happen? This. Those mules deserved better.
Response by Jenny at 2013-07-27 07:33:19
US64 is a highway that runs parallel to I40. I imagine it's just as illegal to take a horse drawn vehicle on the Interstate in Arkansas as it is in other places.
Response by Rebecca at 2013-07-27 08:01:36
Klaus - we have a lot of "rails to trails" paths, but they seldom allow teamsters, or horseback riders to use them. Which stinks :( One of the reasons I haven't gotten back into driving a team of horses - too many crazy drivers out there, and no place to train or drive them.
Response by Klaus Karbaumer at 2013-07-27 13:35:01
I agree with you, Dave. You certainly realize that evolution is quite cruel and not concerned about the fate of the individual( in this case mules , who loyally did their job).
Response by Barb Lee at 2013-07-27 14:25:27
I am among those who have taken their horses and vehicles off the road. Too many drivers have acted too stupidly around the carriage, sun-to-shade visibility is wickedly bad, no shoulders, blind corners and hills. I've decided my number's about to come up.

Response by Geoff at 2013-07-27 23:18:02
The driver should lose her license for at least a year. The teamster was lawfully using the road and she hit him ---- the reason why is not relevant. If she rearended another car, she would have been charged with negligent driving.

I'll bet the teamster had at least as much experience on the road as an 18 yr old driver!
Response by Jenny at 2013-07-28 10:41:04
I am sorry to see the tendency to blame the man with the team when the driver of any vehicle is obligated to operate that vehicle safely, period. This wreck could have been prevented by a driver paying attention. Sun glare is occasionally a problem but when driving in those conditions, a person should be prepared for that possibility. Too many younger drivers today have no clue as to the seriousness of operating a vehicle.
Response by Mooney Ranch at 2013-07-28 13:39:46
Geoff and Jenny you are right. When someone gets hit on bicycle, horse, or any slow mover it's the drivers inattention.
Response by Geoff at 2013-07-28 19:25:14
Where I live the police have said it flat out, "just because it was unintentional doesn't mean someone's not at fault. In fact, every accident has someone at fault or there wouldn't have been an accident in the first place." That came after my boss was creeping slowly down an ice slickened hill and inadvertently slid past the stop sign at the bottom causing a small collision. He was cited and fined with the above quoted explanation.
Response by JohnT at 2013-07-28 20:14:12
Response by Klaus Karbaumer at 2013-07-29 11:21:58
Of course, a driver has to be able to stop his vehicle at any time, at least that's what I learned at driving school many years ago, and it's obvious that the young woman , who ran into the wagon and team is at fault. On the other hand, knowing that these kind of drivers are out there in droves, one has to think twice if one wants to defy the odds. I can only strongly advise any would-be adventurer not to test his/her luck on the roads of today. Once the police would pull any inept driver off the road( which would by the way lead to an immediate collapse of the country's economy) the roads will be safe again! Just look at all the daily speeding, turning without signaling , reckless passing, inattentive driving while using the cellphone or other gadgets, etc. It's actually a miracle that not more accidents are happening, which I mostly attribute to the nation's road system ( many roads with wide lanes and shoulders) , less the abilities and sense of responsibilty of the nation's drivers.
Response by Kacey at 2013-07-29 14:50:08
And to answer ones question earlier...on interstates. It is against the law to have tractors, bicycles, equine (driving or riding) on any interstate in MO.I beleive thats in most states. Vehicles have to maintain 45mph or up to the speed limit.
Busy hwys, well they usually have a nice shoulder on the other hand gravel roads are shoulderless here in MO. We'd love to travel to our folks about 25 miles away but to many road idiots out there.
I sure feel bad for him, his family and fellow vets he was supporting. Prayers sent his way.
Response by JFox Central NE at 2013-07-30 13:30:09
Well I also am going to add a twist just how many know what that SMV sign means to any vehicle It dont matter if its on a horse drawn wagon or on a big farm implement. 99% of the drivers may just slow down a little and check to see if its clear then gas on it and go around. Well that is wrong! You are to slow down to the same speed as the slow moving vehicle, then check to see if it is clear to pass. I have never had anyone do this and most dont even slow down. As a judge friend once told me someones ignorance of the law is NO excuse. Someone mentioned that he should have planed a different route, gravel roads are just bad news for a team and the driver too. Have you ever been hit by a small pice of gravel that gets tossed up from a car going 45 mph? Yea it dont take many times of cars going by and your team will need to go see a mental hospital cause they will be a nervouse wreck. How about " devil's advocate" or not just look at the facts. She hit him from behind, and nothing else is said as to "his driving skills". If I was going to go on a trip like that I would buy a new team because I do not have a team that is matched good enough for the media that I would want to draw. Image is everything to them. Sun glare is the biggest factor that we know of, she admits to taking her eyes off the road. We do not know if she had just came over a hill or what. But the sun dont just sudden like glare unless it was obscured by clouds befor. I just dont know all the contributing factors. So I will come to this conclusion with what little we do know. She is at fault. Anyone that rearends another vehicle is at fault. Its just a very sad deal for all involved.

Response by W. Pat Mc at 2013-07-30 15:37:20
The news on Memphis ch.5 said the girl was charged yesterday for texting, one more idiot
Response by Vicki at 2013-07-30 15:59:56
I speak as a Police Officer in Ohio who did tons of traffic enforcement, and a resident in the fourth largest Amish settlement in the world which has had phenomenal development pressure over the last 20 years. In Ohio, any driver who rear-ends another vehicle (and that includes bicycles and horse drawn) is at fault, legally. She was probably cited. But citations and fines are after the fact. My observation is that many people today do not know or care what the laws and etiquettes of driving are, that I was taught 40 years ago. People are way too fast, way too distracted, way too impatient, way too rude. Sadly, people are frequently killed or injured in my county just going about routine business, by young drivers and drunk drivers, and by people who have moved from the suburbs to the "country". This is even after many of the roads have been equipped with buggy lanes on the shoulders!It is common to have pedestrians, horse drawn vehicles, tractors and combines, hay wagons, and such on our backroads and on main roads with buggy lanes. When roads were gravel, people didn't want to go fast on them in a car. The county has been paving them all, and by golly the newcomers think it's fine to go 60 mph on them! I hardly dare anymore to take my ox team the thousand feet on the road to get to the woods.

I was told that operating a motor vehicle is a huge responsibility, because you are actually propelling a deadly weapon. You better take that seriously! But no one does anymore.
Response by Geoff at 2013-08-03 23:50:30
Two things come to mind.

1) I don't think it would be that hard to make a device standard on all vehicles that jams your cell signal if your engine is running. We can disable a car using a breathalyzer for crying out load.

2) I hate to say it but perhaps a new use for the "concealed carry". If someone hit and seriously injured or killed my animals, they had better hope they killed me too. There will be hell to pay - accident or not.
Response by Charlie Peters at 2013-08-22 18:51:14
I won't say whose at fault for the accident because I don't have all the facts but I think I have more than most. Please don"t make assumptions without first hand knowledge. The veteran had owned the team and worked them constantly for over a year, he built the wagon and started his adventure when he and teamster friends thought they were ready. He worked closely with veterinarians and farriers and planned the trip for over 2 years. The route was county roads and a few state highways, NO INTERSTATES. The wagon and team were on the paved shoulder with
Flashing lights and slow moving vehicle sign as they had been for 1000miles and three months. The writers are correct in saying the mules didn't deserve what happened, neither did I. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE , Charlie Peters, Two Mules and a Vet. Spring 2014 the journey continues.

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