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Rentown Country Store founder remembered after horse-drawn buggy crash

(WNDU)
Published: Dec. 11, 2019 at 7:35 PM EST
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16 News Now learned new details on an 80-year-old Amish man who was killed Tuesday afternoon when his horse-drawn buggy was hit by the driver behind him.

His name was Leroy Hochstetler. He was a man who many Bremen locals say helped build their community.

16 News Now learned more at the Rentown Country Store, a special place for Hochstetler and his family.

It is the business Hochstetler started decades ago that locals say brought the area from a group of homes to a true community.

Hochstetler is gone, but the legacy he leaves behind impacts everyone who lives there on a daily basis.

Hochstetler was struck by 19-year old Marion Otto, who, according to the accident report, was looking through his center console when he felt he hit something. He then stopped, got out of his vehicle and called 911 when he realize what had happened.

Otto cooperated with the investigation, and law enforcement says that drugs and alcohol were not involved in the collision.

16 News Now spoke with some members of Hochstetler's family who declined to be on camera but said the town would not be what it is today had Hochstetler not opened the Rentown Country Store.

Two sisters who were raised in and still live near Rentown said that everything grew once Hochstetler got in business.

“I think his influence in the area of business encouraged others to start a business of their own. The quilting, the clock shop, the buggy shop, the greenhouse,” nearby resident Mary Ellen Kaufman said.

Miriam Hochstetler and Kaufman gave 16 News Now a tour.

“We know Leroy best by going to the Rentown store, which he founded originally, and he knew us and we'd have conversations,” Miriam Hochstetler said.

The store not only serves those who live nearby but people who drive miles to get their goods and other things while they're in town.

The sisters say they are happy with how this community has grown, and they can thank Leroy Hochstetler for a lot of that.

Leroy Hochstetler’s 11 children are still here to help operate the Rentown Country Store and the restaurant across the street, where Leroy Hochstetler opened the original store.

His funeral is planned for Saturday.

One of Leroy Hochstetler’s children says that while this is tragic, they’re not blaming anybody. They said they hope Otto learns something from this accident.

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