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Amish Girl Buggy Shooting "Freak Accident"

December 20, 2011

By Chris Bury, ABCNews.go.com

The shooting death of a 15-year-old Amish girl in Ohio, originally labeled a homicide, now appears to be an accident, according to police.

Rachel Yoder was shot in the head Thursday night as she rode in a horse-drawn buggy on the way home from a Christmas party in rolling farmland southwest of Canton. At first, a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Now, investigators say the death appears to be a freak accident.

Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly told ABC News an Amish man has come forward to say he was preparing to clean his muzzle-loaded rifle after deer hunting and fired it into the air. Zimmerly says the bullet from his rifle “is consistent with” the one that struck the girl riding in a buggy more than a mile away.

The investigation continues and no charges have been filed against the Amish hunter, who voluntarily notified authorities after he heard Rachel Yoder had been shot the same night that he was cleaning his gun.

Yoder was riding alone in the buggy, returning from a Christmas party for employees who work at an Amish produce farm. The shooting took place in the same area of Ohio where seven Amish men have been charged in beard-cutting attacks in a dispute over church discipline.

But authorities say there is no connection between those attacks and the girl’s shooting.

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