Sheriff: Amish Girl's Death Was Freak Accident
Bullet believed to have been fired by man more than a mile away
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2011 3:21 AM CST
Rachel Yoder was found dead on the ground outside the family farm, with the horse and buggy circling.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Amish girl who was fatally shot while driving her horse and buggy home from a Christmas party appears to have been killed by a man cleaning his gun more than a mile away. The local sheriff says he has been contacted by an Amish farmer whose son fired his muzzle-loaded rifle into the air at around the same time that 15-year-old Rachel Yoder was shot. "That's a normal practice. To unload a muzzle-loader is to just shoot it off," the sheriff explains. "It's not like a typical shotgun, where you can take the shell out of it."

Even though the shooting appears to have been accidental, the sheriff says that does not excuse the man's decision to fire his gun into the air. "Any time you're discharging a weapon, you have to make sure that you know where that bullet is going to end up, and if you're going to shoot up in the air, what goes up has to come down," he tells Fox 8 Cleveland. The case has been referred to Ohio prosecutors, who may decide to file charges including negligent homicide.