HERMANN, MO - The owner of the Hermann Trolley service is defending himself after a loaded tweet from the Jefferson County Sheriff raises safety questions about the popular trolleys.
The trolleys are common in Hermann, taking people around to places including wineries.
But now the service is under fire from Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak.
A tweet from Marshak`s personal Twitter account reading, 'Free `Marshak Consulting` for Herman trolleys. 42 people on a bus with no safety devices, cramped inside with metal, wood, and glass...on hilly state highways surrounded by wineries is predictable. A tragedy is just a matter of time. #deathtrap #duckboatnothing #justamatteroftime.
“It`s an attack. It`s a personal attack and an attack on my guys,” said Kevin Sanderlin who has owned Hermann Trolley, LLC for 11 years.
Sanderlin says he`s operated the trolleys with a clean record.
“We concern ourselves with safety. We don`t want anybody to get hurt or anything,” explained Sanderlin.
Sanderlin says his biggest issue was in October of last year when authorities say an SUV pulled out in front of a trolley leading to a crash.
The SUV driver was killed and several people were hurt including nine on the trolley.
Sanderlin runs eight trolleys and took us on the one that Sheriff Marshak rode.
Marshak posted pictures showing a crowded trolley with people sitting and standing.
Sanderlin says that particular trolley can hold 42 people.
Sanderlin told us, “I noticed he was a sheriff in one of the worst counties we have in Missouri with drugs. I think you ought to pay attention to more of that and their safety than coming to Hermann and taking care of our safety issues because we`ve got them under control.”
Sheriff Marshak tells us he was on the trolley this past Saturday and believes there are in his words 'significant safety risks'.
He declined an on-camera interview but gave us a statement.
It reads in part, “I tweeted those considerations because I think it`s important for friends and family alike to weigh the risk of packing themselves in there if something goes wrong (collision or overturning accident).”
Trolley riders we spoke with understand the concerns but felt safe.
“As long as the drivers are accredited and they`re prone to safety that`s what would matter to me,” said Jason Lenear who was visiting Hermann with his wife.
The month-long Oktoberfest celebration starts this weekend in Hermann.
Sanderlin has a message, saying, “People that ride will make a judgment call and they`ll keep coming back and they`ll keeping riding because they know we work hard for them and we`re safe.”
Sanderlin believes the trolleys make Hermann safer because they stop people from drinking and driving.
The Missouri Highway Patrol says trolleys are not required to have seat belts.
Sanderlin says he would install seat belts if it was required.