University of Vermont AAHS

Horse Accidents with Injuries: April through June 2002

Compiled by
Robert O. Dawson
Bryant Smith Chair in Law
University of Texas School of Law
Secretary/Treasurer AAHS

            What kinds of injuries result from horse accidents? From what kinds of accidents do serious injuries result? Here are brief summaries of stories from English-language newspapers and similar sources throughout the world reporting on deaths and injuries to humans from accidents involving horses.

            The full story is often available on the web site of the newspaper that reported the accident. Sometimes, those archived stories are available without charge and sometimes for a small fee. The name of the newspaper and the date of each story have been included in the summary to facilitate locating the full story.

A.            Accidents While Mounted, Driving or Riding

            The New York Post and the Newark Star-Ledger reported on April 11, 2002 that a police horse bucked off its officer-rider near the site of the World Trade Center, fell on him, and then took off on a 20-block sprint, chased by patrol cars, mounted police and K-9 cops. An unknown event spooked the horse. The veteran police officer rider suffered a broken left shoulder in the fall. The horse was recovered by another mounted officer.

            The Houston Chronicle reported on April 26, 2002 that a Houston Police Department mounted officer was slightly injured when his mount slipped and fell on his leg. The officer was limbering up the horse at the time of the accident.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on June 4, 2002 that a mounted police officer was thrown off his horse and injured. The officer was taking the horse down the sidewalk when the horse seemed to be slipping on the bricks. The horse started moving in circles, then reared up and threw off its rider. The officer was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

            The Washington Post reported on June 13, 2002 about the difficulties encountered by the newly-established Washington D.C. mounted police unit. In the course of the story, there was a report of training accidents. Only six of 10 officers in the initial training unit graduated. Three of the other four were injured. They sustained injuries that resulted in light duty or their limbs being placed in casts. One of those officers had his leg shattered when he was kicked by another officer’s horse. Another threw her back out of place by repeated falls. And a third broke her upper arm while trying to break a fall.

            The Independent – London reported on April 15, 2002 that two equestriennes were injured in event training. Pippa Funnel damaged ligaments in her leg when she fell at the seventh fence at the Belton Horse Trials. Karen Dixon dislocated her shoulder when she fell in the practice area. The Daily Telegraph reported on May 4, 2002 that Ms. Funnel recovered from the injury and assumed the lead after dressage in the Badminton three weeks later.

            There were two celebrity horse accidents. Entertainment Weekly reported on May 3, 2002 that Robert Duvall, 71, broke several ribs when he fell from a horse near his Virginia home. He had been training for Open Range, an upcoming movie with Keven Costner. The Wichita, Kansas Eagle reported on April 26, 2002 that pop singer Jewel was injured when she was thrown from a horse at the Texas ranch of her boyfriend, rodeo star Ty Murray. Jewel broke her collarbone, her first rib and suffered bumps and bruises. She is reported to be an accomplished equestrienne who rides frequently.

            The AAP News in Australia reported on April 22, 2002 that former national road cycling champion Graham McVilly was killed when he was thrown from a horse while competing in an equestrian event near Hobart. McVilly had taken up eventing after retiring from competitive cycling.

            The Dominion in New Zealand reported on April 27, 2002 about former steeplechase champion Kenny Browne, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a fall from a horse one year ago. He broke his neck, was close to death and spent five months in the hospital. He must now rely upon a respirator. He now spends his days at the jumps racing stable he and his wife own and she now operates on their home property.

            The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom reported on June 7, 2002 on the death of Rachel Atkinson, 34. She had suffered from a broken neck, back and breastbone in a point-to-point riding accident. She had appeared to be recovering nicely, when about three weeks after the accident she suddenly became ill. She died from massive internal bleeding that had previously gone undiscovered.

            The Yorkshire Post in the United Kingdom reported on June 11 and 12, 2002 that an inquest into the death of a 13-year-old Rachel Crossley from a fall while riding bare-back resulted in a verdict that her death was an accident. She had just finished a riding lesson with a group of friends and had been grooming the horses before turning them out to graze. She had been told by a fellow student that it was permissible to ride bare-back but fell onto the concrete stable yard after her horse bolted toward the barn. The children were unsupervised by staff at the time of the accident. Rachel died several days later of head injuries despite the fact she had been wearing a hard hat. Staff at the riding center where the accident occurred testified that bare-back riding was supposed to take place only in the school’s indoor arena under supervision but, according to detectives, what the deceased was doing was accepted practice. The Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring manslaughter charges.

            The Waikato Times in New Zealand reported on June 12, 2002 that former jockey Peter Yovich died after falling from a horse he was riding near his home.

            The Dominion in New Zealand reported on May 11, 2002 that a woman suffered serious neck and pelvic injuries when she was thrown from her horse while working cattle. She was flown to a hospital by helicopter.

            The Dominion in New Zealand reported on June 4, 2002 that a 9-year old boy was flown to a hospital by helicopter after the horse he was riding fell on him. The boy was reported to be with serious injuries.

            The Deseret News in Utah reported on June 14, 2002 that a medical examiner will be asked to decide as to the cause of the death of Doug Cannon, 24, a Utah State University student. He was found at the bottom of a steep, deep ravine in the mountains west of Clarkston. A horse he was apparently riding was found standing unharmed next to his body. Evidence indicated that the horse stumbled or lost its footing and fell to the bottom of the ravine, crushing Cannon and killing him instantly.

            The San Antonio Express News reported on May 2, 2002 that Terry Lynn Wilshur, 42, of McAllen, Texas was killed when the horse she was riding spooked from an unknown cause and bolted onto a busy street. She and the horse were killed when struck by a truck.

            The Denver Post reported on June 16, 2000 that nine participants in a concession-operated cookout trail ride in Yellowstone National Park were injured when a line of horses became spooked and the tourists were thrown off. One woman suffered fractured ribs, a separated shoulder and internal injuries; she was flown to a hospital by helicopter. The others were taken by land to a hospital. Their injuries included a fractured wrist, two mild concussions, scrapes and bruises. The accident occurred when one or two horses at the back of the line became spooked and ran up among the other horses.

            The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on April 5, 2002 that a father and his son were injured when the harness of their buggy came loose. The buggy went out of control and overturned on the side of the road.

            B.            Accidents While on the Ground

            The Western Daily Press in the United Kingdom reported on June 12, 2002 about an inquest into the death of a cyclist, Anthony Bevan, who was killed by being kicked after two horses were spooked in a narrow lane. The horses threw their riders and bolted. The rider of one of the horses, international equestrienne Gina George, said that the horse appears to have been startled by the bicycle. The deceased’s sister, who was riding tandem with him at the time of the accident, could not recall details of the event. Mr. Bevan was not wearing a helmet. The Times of London reported on June 11, 2002 that Ms. George told the inquest that her mount appears to have been startled by the deceased’s red waterproof and the speed of his cycle at it came around a corner. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

            The Agence France-Presse reported on June 10, 2002 that a horse kicked to death its abusive master when he entered its stable in a poor Cairo neighborhood. The owner, Mohamed Hamad Ali, 44, died of a broken skull from repeated kicks to his head. Neighbors told police that the horse was acting in revenge against an owner who had whipped it, failed to feed it properly and used it to pull overloaded carts. The horse was taken to a veterinarian for a health examination.

            The Newark, New Jersey Star-Ledger reported on June 14, 2002 that a 9-year-old girl was injured when a horse kicked her in the head outside her home. The girl was airlifted to a hospital where she was treated and released.

            The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on May 28, 2002 that a 17-year-old girl, Jamie Wildner, died from injuries suffered when her horse kicked her in the head earlier in the month. Jamie was training her horse Calvin in the front yard of her home on May 14 when the horse became spooked and kicked her.

            The Seattle Times reported on May 24, 2002 that a man fell to his death from a horse van on the New Jersey Turnpike while on his way to Belmont Park. Eugene W. Grant, 66, was tending a horse in the back of the truck, leaning against the back door when it suddenly opened.

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on May 7, 2002 that a 17-year-old woman was flown to a hospital after being trampled by a horse. She had multi-trauma injuries.

            The Irish Times reported on April 13, 2002 that marathon runner Paula Radcliffe was training along the Plassey and Canal Banks in Limerick when she met a loose galloping horse. She saw the horse bearing down on her. It was being followed by some children. The 28-year-old runner had to take cover behind a tree to avoid being hit by the horse.

            C.            Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles

            The Riverside, California Press-Enterprise reported on April 9, 2002 that in the middle of Riverside’s greenbelt there is a dirt road that intersects with a paved one. The paved road bears a stop sign; the dirt road does not. The dirt road is a riding trail and the stop sign was erected at the request of equestrians.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on April 13, 2002 that a horse and buggy collided with a vehicle. No injuries were reported. The buggy driver pulled from a stop sign and failed to see the motor vehicle.

            The Riverside, California Press-Enterprise reported on May 10, 2002 that a horse named Lucky got loose on Ramona Expressway and had a run-in with a van. The contact was a glancing blow causing minor injuries to Lucky and the van. No humans were injured.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on May 13, 2002 that a man and his two children were injured when a car crashed into their horse-drawn buggy. Mahlon Zimmerman, 45, was admitted to hospital with head injuries; he was listed in serious condition. His two children suffered bruises and scrapes and were kept in the hospital overnight for observation. The motor vehicle driver told police as he was driving his car the windshield fogged up. He bent down to open the windows and turn on the vent. When he looked up, he saw the buggy and braked, but was unable to avoid the collision.

            The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom reported on May 23, 2002 that in a trial the driver of a bus denied recklessly overtaking an aristocrat’s horse-drawn carriage causing it to crash into an oncoming car. Lady Lindsay, 40, wife of the Earl of Lindsay, claimed in her testimony that the bus “zoomed” past the carriage in which she was riding with her groom, causing the horses to bolt. The runaway horses collided with an automobile injuring both animals. Lady Lindsay was taken to the hospital by ambulance with injuries to an arm, ankle, pelvis and back, as well as a head cut. The Express reported on May 31, 2002 that Countess Lindsay was awarded damages of pounds 21,153 against the bus company for her injuries. The Times of London reported on May 31, 2002 that the British Horse Society praised the countess for taking the case to court and said that drivers should now be aware that they could be sued for failing to show consideration. The judge trying the case rejected the bus driver’s testimony that he drove carefully, commenting “It seems clear that he could have driven more slowly.”

            The Los Angeles Times reported on May 19, 2002 that an escaped horse was running loose on a street when it ran into an oncoming car and died. The animal had thrown its rider and leaped out of its corral. The motorist was uninjured but the car appeared to be totaled.

            The Los Angeles Daily News reported on May 29, 2002 that Gary Lee Stiles, 47, was killed when a loose horse collided with his car. The horse flipped over the car and landed on the road. A few minutes later, a bread truck struck the same horse in the road, swerved and flipped onto the road’s shoulder. The truck driver was taken to a hospital with cuts, bruises and a compound fracture of his arm.

            The Houston Chronicle reported on June 5, 2002 that David King, 32, a 7-year-veteran sheriff’s deputy, died after his car struck a loose horse on a dark highway.

            The Dominion in New Zealand reported on June 3, 2002 that a horse caused two separate accidents within minutes. The horse ran onto the road and into the side of a car, causing minor panel damage. Within a minute, a fully laden semi-truck hit the horse, which was lying in the middle of the road. The driver lost control and the truck ended up on its side in a nearby paddock. The horse was killed instantly. The truck driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on June 3, 2002 that an ATV and a horse-drawn buggy collided when the buggy driver made an unsignaled left turn as the ATV was passing on his left. There were no injuries.

            The York, Pennsylvania Daily Record reported on June 13, 2002 that the driver of a truck collided with another truck, pushing it into a horse-drawn buggy. While neither driver was injured, the horse was euthanized. The accident occurred when the second truck slowed to pull in behind the horse and buggy. The driver of the first truck left the scene of the accident and is wanted by police.

            The South African Press Association reported on June 12, 2002 that three people were seriously injured when two cars collided with two horses. A group of horses was on the road when a car collided with one. The second animal bolted across the highway and was hit by another car.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on June 10, 2002 that Mary Lapp Fisher, 66, was seriously injured when she was thrown from the buggy in which she was riding when it collided with a car. Her husband, driver of the buggy, pulled out of a driveway into the path of a car.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on June 20, 2002 that police charged Mark Anthony Tomassetti, 22, with criminal charges arising out of a collision with a horse-drawn buggy in which two children were killed. Rebecca Sue Ebersol, 9 months, and Rachel Ann Stoltzfus, 12, both died as a result of the collision. Tomassetti reportedly fled the scene of the accident, but was later taken into custody. This was the sixth accident in the community involving horse-drawn buggies since May 1.

            The Southland Times in New Zealand reported on June 20, 2002 that a car was extensively damaged when it hit a horse shortly before dawn. The driver of the car received minor injuries and the horse received lacerations to its right leg. The driver could not see the horse until a moment before the collision.

            The Southland Times in New Zealand reported on June 17, 2002 that a horse was killed when it and a car collided. The car was extensively damaged but the driver was not injured. The horse was one of five that had escaped from a nearby paddock.

            D.            Accidents Involving Horse Racing

            The Contra Costa Times in California reported on April 6, 2002 that jockey Jose Arriaga, who suffered a severe head injury in a fall at Bay Meadows, was listed in critical but stable condition after undergoing successful brain surgery. Arriaga incurred the injury when he was unseated by the 3-year-old filly Mohter Fear. The horse lost Arriaga when she ducked out suddenly on the far turn. Arriaga hit the ground hard and may have been clipped by a trailing horse.

            The Des Moines Register in Iowa reported on May 9, 2002 that Scott Keefe collided with a horse in a freak mishap at the start of the fifth race at Prairie Meadows racetrack. Neither the horse nor Keefe, a member of the track’s starting gate crew, was injured. After the race started Keefe ran in front of the starting gate unaware that a horse was still in the gate. The Keefe collided with the horse when it left the gate. The horse’s name is Gonna Run Over You.

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on May 16, 2002 that the career of Australian rider Adrian Patterson may be in jeopardy after a fall. Patterson’s fall from a horse in a race left him with a broken ankle; there is doubt he will ever be able to ride again. The horse stumbled for unknown reasons.

            The Los Angeles Times reported on May 13, 2002 that race training may be fully as dangerous as running the race itself. The Jockeys’ Guild keeps accurate records of race injuries—including 144 rider deaths since 1940—but fails to record deaths and crippling injuries that occur during the morning training hours at racetrack, where hundreds of horses, many inexperienced and high-strung, vie for space on the track. Many states, including California, have helmet rules for morning riders. In Florida, where Yvonne Azeff, an assistant on the staff of John Ward, Jr., trainer of Monarchos, was injured last year, the helmet is optional and she wasn’t wearing one. However, many morning racetrack accidents happen away from the actual racing oval, in the open barn areas, along the shed rows and in the stalls where the horses spend most of their hours.

            The Chicago Tribune reported on May 18, 2002 that jockey Randy Meier is back riding after a five week recovery period from a deflated lung, two broken ribs and a broken toe sustained in a race accident.

            The New York Daily News reported on May 31, 2002 that jockey Joe Bravo suffered a broken left wrist after falling from his mount during a race. Bravo’s horse swerved to avoid another horse, who fell going into the first turn.

            The Newark Star-Ledger reported on June 6, 2002 that jockey Rachel Lavoy suffered a fractured collarbone during a spill at Monmouth Park. The accident occurred when another horse bore out badly on the first turn, causing Lavoy’s mount to clip heels and fall. She is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.

            The Cincinnati Post reported on June 3, 2002 that jockey Robby Albarado was injured at Churchill Downs when his mount broke down with less than a sixteenth of a mile to the finish. Albarado fell to the ground and may have been struck by oncoming horses.

            The New York Post reported on June 9, 2002 that jockey John Velazauez was slightly injured when the horse he was riding on the Belmont Stakes card fractured the sesamoid bones in her right-front leg, went down, and pitched Velasquez to the ground. He injured his knee.

            The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on June 21, 2002 about the history of injuries of jockeys participating in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association All-Star Jockey Championship at Lone Star Park. Ten of the 12 have sustained serious injuries while racing that kept them from riding for extended periods of time.

            E.            Preventing Injuries from Horse Accidents

            The Syracuse Post-Standard in New York reported on April 14, 2002 on the wide variety of safety helmets that are available for various sporting activities, including horseback riding. The article stressed the importance of using a helmet designed for the particular activity in which it will be used.

            The Evening Post in New Zealand reported on April 23, 2002 about governmental concerns over the safety record of New Zealand’s adventure tourism business, including horseback riding. The article reported that of the activities within commercial adventure tourism, horseback riding and cycling had the highest injury rates. A voluntary code of safety is being developed.

            The Los Angeles Times reported on May 6, 2002 on a study that explores the question whether some persons are truly accident prone, not just unlucky. Science concludes that certain personalities are risk-takers who naturally are going to have more accidents, but that is only part of the explanation.

            The Newport News Daily Press in Florida reported on May 13, 2002 about skyrocketing worker’s compensation premiums that have hit the horse industry. In some instances, premiums have quadrupled in a single year. The increase is attributable to the decreasing number of carriers who are willing to write insurance coverage for worker’s compensation in the horse industry.


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