CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Three children were killed and a fourth seriously injured when a vehicle rear-ended their buggy northwest of Charlotte.

It happened around 3:20 p.m. Wednesday on Vermontville Highway just west of Ainger Road in Eaton County’s Chester Township.

Dispatchers for the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office say the people in the buggy were heading home from school when the crash happened. Eaton County Undersheriff Jeffrey Cook said a driver ran into the back of the buggy.

Cook said first responders arrived to find the three children dead. The fourth was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

All of the children are between the ages of 6 and 13. Those killed were two girls and a boy. The survivor, a boy, is the youngest.

“It’s very difficult. All of our responders, all of our deputies, EMS, the witnesses that were at the scene, we all have children and it’s difficult to measure the impact that this has on the families with these children. Of course, the first responders who have children, it’s, it’s a horrific scene. It’s a horrible tragedy and we are doing our very best to conduct a full investigation and find out how this occurred and help the families involved,” Cook said.

Investigators believe the victims were members of the Amish community.

“They ain’t got a chance,” Kevin Newton, who knows the family, said of buggies when they’re involved in crashes with cars. “They ain’t got a chance in heck.”

He drives for several Amish families in the area when they need it.

“What’s it going to take for people to slow down? Slow down! This is Amish country,” he said.

Amish neighbors could be seen at the family’s home while the immediate family went to be with the surviving child. News 8 was told Wednesday night his condition had stabilized.

The man who hit the buggy was also taken to the hospital to be checked out.

—News 8’s Leon Hendrix contributed to this report.