PENN YAN – An elderly Mennonite couple from Penn Yan were seriously injured on Wednesday afternoon July 21 when their horse and buggy were hit by a car north of Penn Yan.

IVAN HORNING, 80, and ELLA HORNING, 79, were on the shoulder of Route 14A near the intersection with North Main Street near the village limits heading north. There the buggy was hit from behind by a black Chevrolet Impala WILLIAM VALENTIN, 55, Geneva. The hornings were thrown from the buggy and the horse left the scene.

The Yates County Sheriff’s Deputies, Penn Yan Police, Fire and Ambulance Corps, Medic 55 and Yates County Emergency Management responded, as did Mercy Flight and Lifenet helicopters. The Hornings were flown to the trauma center at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester with serious injuries. Valentin was unharmed. The horse was later found on a farm on Stape Road and examined by an East View veterinarian.

Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike called the crash “another sad occurrence, not sharing the lane”. The Yates County Accident Investigation Team has been called in to rebuild. The MPs were able to rule out any poisoning or substance that was involved in the on-site tests. Spike says contributing factors include distraction or inattentiveness and vehicle speed. The criminal investigation department is conducting further forensic tests that involve devices related to the vehicle, including a cell phone. Valentin was charged with not exercising due caution when approaching a horse and following it too closely. He will appear at Benton Town Court at a later date.

“We have discussed this case with District Attorney Todd Casella on the charge of negligent vehicle assault,” said Spike. “DA Casella has agreed to bring the matter to the next Yates County Grand Jury session if a criminal complaint is appropriate . “

The Hornings founded the well-known local company Hornings’ Greenhouse in 1980, now run by their son Jere Horning and where Ella still works. In a phone interview with The Chronicle-Express Thursday morning, Jere said that Ivan had suffered multiple back and neck fractures but was conscious. He also suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, but after monitoring with multiple scans, doctors say this has apparently stopped. Ella has severe fractures in a femur and multiple ribs, and a major bruise on her head. She was unconscious at the scene, but then regained consciousness. Both victims face months of recovery.

Jere said how much his family valued all of the ward’s good wishes: “It is really touching how many people have called to ask.” He also thanked the deputies, firefighters and rescue workers who responded and treated his parents. He was himself a first aider in the Benton fire department and a former boss. He said he was grateful that the crash happened just half a mile south of his district, where he would have been one of the first to arrive at the scene.

“Most people don’t really appreciate the trauma these people experience when responding to accidents like this,” Jere said. “If I had been there, they would have had to withdraw me because of the added stress from my parents.”


These types of accidents, motor vehicle accidents versus non-motor vehicle accidents, are becoming more common in the Yates County area.

• A fatal horse and buggy car accident occurred just five weeks ago on Sunday June 13 on Route 364 near Voak Road. That collision resulted in the death of Ada Horning, 67, of East Swamp Road, Penn Yan, who died on the scene. (No relationship with Ivan or Ella Horning.) Ada’s husband, Mahlon Horning, 66, was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Lifenet helicopter. The driver of the car was accused of approaching a horse too closely and with neglect.

• Last summer, a car crashed into a horse and buggy occurred on Sunday, August 9, 2020 on East Sherman Hollow Road west of Penn Yan. The horse and buggy were driven by Matthew Sensenig, 33, of Italy-Friend Road, Penn Yan, with his wife Katrina and their five children: Eric Sensenig, 9 years old; Lynelle Sensenig, 7 years; Jonathan Sensenig, 5 years; Glendon Sensenig, 3 years; Harlan Sensenig, 7 months old. According to Spike, when the motorist started overtaking the buggy, another vehicle approached in the oncoming lane and it collided with the buggy, causing it to leave the lane and break apart, with all seven members of the Sensenig family in the ditch and the field were hurled. Matthew and his wife sustained head injuries. Her 7 year old suffered multiple and serious injuries and her 7 month old baby had internal injuries.

• On January 6, 2016, a Mennonite couple was thrown out of a buggy hit by a car. Spike reported that Katherine Martin, 53, and Meno Martin, 54, both of Baldwin Road, Penn Yan, were thrown out of their horse-drawn cart on Lovejoy Road, about 1/2 mile south of the junction with Havens Corners Road in Benton . They were also taken to the Strong Memorial and were listed under guard at the time.

• In December 2009, four members of the Martin family of Mumby Road, Canandaigua were injured when their buggy was hit from behind by a car on County Road 18, Gorham. Mable Martin, 43, Louis Martin, 49, Judith Martin, 14, and Jessica Martin, 10, were all taken to Strong Memorial Hospital for treatment. The driver of the car told MPs that the sun glare prevented him from seeing the buggy until it was too late to avoid the accident.

• Perhaps the saddest of this long history of this type of accident goes back to the Horning family from Benton. On April 9, 1992, Ivan and Ella’s eldest son, Mervin Horning, 29, was beaten and killed from behind by a 22-year-old Romulus driver while driving on Route 14A near Baldwin Road, barely a mile, rode his bike to work from where his parents themselves came so close to death almost three decades later. Mervin reportedly suffered a fractured skull and spine, was resuscitated at the scene, and flown on the newly formed Mercy Flight to Arnot Ogden Hospital in Elmira, where he died eight hours later. He left behind his wife Ruth and three children. The driver of the car was reported for lack of care while driving.