University of Vermont AAHS

Horse Accidents with Injuries: October through December 2002

Compiled by
Robert O. Dawson
AAHS Secretary/Treasurer

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 Western Morning News in the United Kingdom reported on September 27, 2002 that a 19-year-old stable girl was killed while riding in Lincolnshire.  Rebecca Davies was thrown from her horse and dragged along the ground for more than a quarter of a mile.  She suffered fatal head injuries.

            The Times of India reported on October 3, 2002 that actress Manisha Koirala was admitted to hospital for leg injuries after she fell from a horse-carriage during the shooting of a film.  The carriage carrying the actress overturned.

            The South Bend Tribune in Indiana reported on October 11, 2002 that the parents of four-year-old Dylan McDowell have filed a lawsuit over his death last December as a result of being thrown from a carriage and run over by its rear wheels.  Dylan was riding in the carriage with his mother and two siblings when the horse spooked (possibly as a result of debris thrown by a passing car) and threw Dylan from the carriage. The horse raced with the carriage for an additional 50 yards before crashing into a wall.  The carriage ride was sponsored by the City of Belding’s “Christmas at the Depot” program.

            The Worcester, Massachusetts Sunday Telegram reported on October 20, 2002 that a ten-year old girl was seriously injured when she was thrown from her horse at a stables.  She was dragged by the horse and trampled by it.  A horse show was taking place at the stable and the child’s mother was among the many spectators who witnessed the incident.  The child was flown to a hospital by helicopter, where she was reported to be in critical condition.

            The Portland Oregonian reported on October 22, 2002 that nine-year-old Myrtle Creek died from injuries she received while riding her horse in a field near her home.  She was discovered bleeding and not breathing by her younger sister.  Myrtle’s father administered CPR but was unable to revive her.

            The Reno Gazette-Journal reported on October 22, 2002 that rodeo legend Larry Mahan was thrown from his horse during the grand entry of a rodeo in San Dimas, California.  He was kicked in the face by a horse and then was landed on by his horse.  He is reported to be doing well.

            The Contra Costa Times in California reported on October 29, 2002 that in New York State a horse pulling an Amish buggy apparently panicked, sending the buggy into a pond where twelve-year-old Jacob Miller and four-month-old Veronica Miller drowned.  Their mother was treated at hospital.  The family of nine was traveling by buggy in the town of Leon, about 40 miles south of Buffalo when the accident occurred. 

            The Idaho Statesman reported on November 5, 2002 that Republican House Speaker Bruce Newcomb was seriously injured when he was thrown from his horse while working cattle on his ranch.  He broke seven ribs, lacerated his liver and punctured his lung, partially collapsing it.  His wife, Celia Gould, was moving cattle with him when the accident occurred.  Speaker Newcomb said, “Yesterday afternoon I suffered a common occupational injury for ranchers–I was thrown from my horse and fell on several large rocks as I was moving cattle on our ranch.  However, the great news is that as a good Republican, I clearly veered to the right when I was thrown.”

            The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on November 15, 2002 that event rider Catriona Williams underwent surgery for a serious neck injury. She was hurt when she fell from her horse at a horse trial at Kihikihi.  In a follow-up story, the Waikato Times in New Zealand reported on November 23, 2002 that Williams is recovering well following her neck surgery.  She is now in the rehabilitation phase.  A family spokesman said it is too early to tell what long-term damage she had suffered, if any.   In a further follow up story, the Sunday Star-Times reported on December 15, 2002 that Williams suffered a broken neck in the accident.  After her accident, she received a letter from Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down from a 1995 eventing fall, encouraging her to persevere:  "You'll learn how to live with this challenge. You'll learn new ways to do the same old things. And you'll learn that your life holds much more than you can imagine. Don't forget who you are. Keep going," he wrote.  The 31-year-old Wairarapa woman suffered serious neck injuries when thrown head-first to the ground after her horse failed to complete a cross-country jump November 10. It is too early to tell if permanent damage has been done and she isn't ready to reveal her condition. Her energy and determination are focused on rehabilitation.

            The National Post in Canada reported on November 15, 2002 that fifteen-year-old Christina Marlin was injured when her horse went down and rolled on her as she competed in the Canadian Equestrian Team event at he Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.  She was taken to hospital for precautionary tests.

            The Illawarra Mercury in Australia reported on December 2, 2002 that a seventeen-year-old girl suffered chest injuries, a broken arm and back injures after she fell off her horse when it clipped a bar during a show jump practice session.  The horse fell over and struck her in the chest.  She was airlifted to hospital, where she is reported to be in stable condition.

            The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on December 3, 2002 that twelve-year-old Monica Averhoff was killed when her horse spooked while being ridden on a beach.  She fell from her saddle and was dragged about a half-mile along the beach by the runnin horse.  She had been riding with several others, including her younger sister, on a guided ride on the beach when four of the horses started running.  Monica suffered head injuries, from which she died.  Her sister was also thrown from her horse but was uninjured.

            The Times Union in Albany, New York reported on December 6, 2002 that 18 passengers in a horse-drawn trolley endured a sprint five blocks down Broadway in Saratoga Springs after one of the two draft horses spooked.  The trolley ride was part of the 16th annual Victorian Street Walk in Saratoga Springs.  The right horse spooked when its bridle broke.  One passenger was injured when he was struck on his head by a sign on the trolley.  The trolley sideswiped a parked car before being brought to a stop.

            The Miami Herald reported on December 18, 2002 that twenty-two year old Juergen Lendewig, an avid rider since he was 3, now sits confined to his wheelchair, following a riding accident that left him a quadriplegic. "It changed my life from one day to the next," Lendewig said, reflecting on the June 17, 2001, incident. Lendewig was riding a horse at a friend's farm in Venezuela when the animal became uncontrollable and ran into the nearby woods. Lendewig ducked, trying to avoid a tree branch. He collided with the orange tree anyway, leaving him with a broken neck and back injuries that now allow him to move only his head and arms.

            The Age in Australia reported on December 24, 2002 about a serious injury to Sheila Laxon, the first woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner, in a fall while riding a horse during training. Ms Laxon, with pelvic and chest injuries, was flown to a hospital where she underwent surgery. She is reported to be in serious condition. Ms Laxon was riding one of her own horses on a hill track when she was dislodged after the horse slipped or took fright.

            B.            Accidents While on the Ground

            The Western Daily Press in the United Kingdom reported on November 8, 2002 that Lynn Young won a four-year legal battle seeking compensation for back and leg injuries she suffered when a loose horse knocked her over at a show.  The horse had broken loose from its handler and cantered toward her as she tried to protect her two-year-old granddaughter whom she was holding.  The horse got loose from its handler while it was being untacked prior to being transported home.  The handler believed the horse spooked at the sound of a revving truck engine.  The amount of the damages award was not disclosed.

            The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on November 12, 2002 that Daniel King, 32, died when he was kicked by a horse in the chest and head.  King was working in his barn when he was killed by the horse, which was tied up at the time.

            The Australian Associated Press General News reported on November 14, 2002 that a journalist was trampled by a police horse during anti-World Trade Organization protests in Sydney, but was not as badly injured as first believed.  Patricia Karvelas was rushed to the hospital after she was caught between protesters and mounted police and is reported to be suffering from bruises, but with no broken bones.  Thirteen protesters were arrested. 

            The Hindu in India reported on November 18, 2002 that a pilgrim was killed and five others were injured when a horse ran amok into the crowd at the Pushkar fair.

            The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on November 28, 2002 that actress Patty Duke, 55, suffered a concussion and skull fracture in early September when she tried to apply fly spray to a two-year old filly in a stall in her barn.  She was hospitalized for several days and then released.  Duke’s husband, Micahel Pearce, discovered Duke lying on the floor of the stall after the accident.

            The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom reported on December 11, 2002 that nine-year-old Rachael Foster died after being kicked by a horse as she was out riding with friends.  The group had stopped to rest with a horse started fighting with the pony on which she was mounted.  She dismounted to separate the two but was kicked twice by the horse. The first blow knocked her to the ground and the second caught the back of her head beneath the rim of her helmet.  She received serious head injuries and died the next day. 

            The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on December 20, 2002 that Happy Jack, a horse from the Fort Worth Herd, bit Dallas Mayor Laura Miller on the right arm Thursday during a trip meant to cordially invite the City Council to the upcoming Stock Show in Fort Worth. The herd representatives' appearance in downtown Dallas was the latest in Fort Worth officials' ongoing effort to make nice with their neighbor to the east since Miller became mayor. Miller said the nip hurt but that she has dealt with worse in her political career.

            C.            Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles

            The Allentown, Pennsylvania Morning Call reported on October 1, 2002 that two horses pulling a riderless Mennonite buggy darted into a country road and were struck by an oncoming vehicle. One horse was euthanized, while the other is recovering from minor injuries.  The horses broke restraints and ran into the road where they collided with the automobile.  The vehicle driver was not injured.

            The Western Daily Press in the United Kingdom reported on October 2, 2002 that three horses were killed when struck by automobiles on a public roadway.  Suspicion focused on hunting opponents for freeing the horses as their owners are noted supporters of hunting and were on a pro-hunting demonstration at the times of the accidents.

            The Contra Costa Times in California reported on October 6, 2002 that a horse was killed and its rider injured when a car driving down Bollinger Canyon Road struck the pair from behind.  The seventeen-year-old rider was flown to hospital after complaining of neck, back and chest pains.

            The New York Post reported on October 12, 2002 that a mounted policeman is in stable condition after he and his horse were hit by a car in Times Square.  The officer was riding east along 48th Street near Broadway at abut 11:30 p.m. when an automobile ran into them.  The officer was rushed to hospital and treated for non-serious head and neck injuries.  The horse was treated for a cut on its leg.

            The News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri reported on October 12, 2002 that five people were injured, including two small children, after a crash between a Sheriff’s Department patrol car and an Amish buggy.  No one was seriously hurt, but it was the second buggy-patrol car accident in the county in a week.  The accident was an intersection collision.  Patrol Lt. Terry Moore said buggies are required by law to have lights on the left front and back side of the vehicles.  The amber lights must be at least three inches in diameter, he said.  The previous week, a buggy rear-ended a patrol car stopped where the officer was directing traffic around an accident.  The buggy’s driver was gazing at the accident when the buggy hit the patrol car.

            The Allentown, Pennsylvania Morning Call reported on October 28, 2002 that a horse broke free from its buggy rigging and collided with a pickup truck.  The horse broke loose about 10:30 p.m. and continued to run along the roadway where is struck the truck on the driver’s side.  The driver and passenger were slightly injured. 

            The York Daily Record in Pennsylvania reported on November 1, 2002 that Ben Ebersol, Jr., a three-year-old Amish boy, was killed when a van struck his buggy.  Six other family members were injured in the accident.  The collision occurred at 8 p.m. when the van struck the buggy on an unlit, two-lane bridge over the Susquehanna River.  The boy’s father was in critical condition in hospital, while the mother remained in fair condition.  The impact threw all seven from the buggy and killed the horse.  The van’s driver was not injured.  In a follow up story, the Harrisburg Patriot reported on November 17, 2002 that Benjamin Ebersole, Sr, the father, and Daniel Ebersole, nine years old, were the second and third deaths from this accident.  Both died of head injuries.  Ebersole’s wife, Annie, remained in the hospital in good condition, while a four-year-old daughter, Sarah, was listed in fair condition.  Two other children were treated and released.  In a further report, Public-Opinion reported on December 2, 2002 that criminal charges will not be filed against the driver of the van.  The prosecutor explained that despite the horrific consequences of the collision the facts do not support criminal charges from homicide by vehicle or involuntary manslaughter.  The van driver was not speeding, and no drugs or alcohol were involved; he stopped and tried to help the injured people and cooperated fully with state police.

            The Daily Oklahoman reported on November 6, 2002 that an El Reno woman was killed when her small car struck a horse.  She was killed at about 8 a.m. when  her car hit a horse standing in the roadway. She was wearing a seat belt and was pinned in the car about 20 minutes.

            The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on November 11, 2002 that a truck rear-ended an Amish family's horse-drawn buggy killing the mother and two children and injuring the father and one other child.  The Hertzler family was riding on a public road in Pennsylvania when their buggy was struck and sent over an embankment.  The driver of the truck was not injured. 

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal reported on November 11, 2002 that two persons were injured in an accident involving a horse-and-buggy Sunday evening.  Two people inside the buggy were ejected and taken to hospital.

            The Wisconsin State Journal reported on November 13, 2002 that two horses were killed when three horses were struck by a car.  A passenger was treated for head injuries at hospital and released.

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Sunday Patriot-News reported on November 17, 2002 that Jeptha D. Yoder, 56, died of multiple blunt force trauma when his horse-drawn buggy was hit from behind by a car.  It was the third fatal buggy crash in Pennsylvania in a month.  The driver of the motor vehicle suffered minor injuries.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on November 21, 2002 that a horse was killed in a collision on Interstate 30 with a van.  The horse had just been ridden and was tied to a tree limb on its owner's property about a mile from Interstate 30 when the limb suddenly broke.  The van's driver did not suffer significant injuries.  Traffic on the Interstate was slowed for about two hours.  About five cars followed the horse on its route toward the Interstate, including one whose passenger videotaped the trip.

The Xinhua News Agency in Pakistan reported on November 24, 2002 that, Abdul Hag, 50, a farmer, was killed when his horse-drawn cart was hit by a speedy truck.  Charges were filed against the truck driver.

Austria Today reported on November 28, 2002 that a horse threw its rider and tried to cross a highway.  A car proceeding in one direction hit the horse, throwing it into the path of a car coming from the opposite direction.  The driver of that car sustained serious injuries; the horse was dead at the scene.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal reported on December 3, 2002 that Christopher E. Hardy, 30, was sentenced to a term of 2 to 5 years in prison for killing David K. Beiler, 64, when his car slammed into the victim's horse-drawn buggy.  Hardy was legally intoxicated at the time and fled the scene of the accident. 

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on December 4, 2002 that an unidentified man suffered head injuries and was airlifted to hospital after a truck/horse-drawn buggy just before dawn.  The collision threw two females from the buggy, but neither was injured.

The News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri reported on December 4, 2002 that Peter Schwartz, 17, and Samuel Schwartz, 15, were injured when a truck collided with their horse-drawn buggy.  The truck driver crested a hill and could not avoid colliding with the buggy.  Samuel suffered minor injuries, but Peter was air lifted to hospital where he was reported to be in serious condition.

The Christchurch Press in New Zealand reported on December 16, 2002 that a couple were lucky to escape without injury when their vehicle ran into a group of spooked horses. Ten polo horses appeared to have been frightened by high winds and broke through a shut gate and on to the highway about 11pm. Police said the horses ran directly into the path of a motor vehicle, and one horse was killed.  Police say no charges will be laid over the break-out because the gate the horses broke through had been secure.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania New Era reported on December 17, 2002 that the driver of a car was injured after he struck the rear of a horse-drawn buggy and then crashed into a nearby yard. Mario Morin, 32, of Strasburg, was listed in serious condition. The driver of the buggy, Abner King, 20, Ronks, was not hurt, although police said his horse sustained minor injuries.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal reported on December 18, 2002 that an automobile driven by Stephen Smith, 36, of Lancaster, collided with a horse and buggy driven by Daniel King, 48, of Bird-in-Hand at 10:45 p.m. on Dec. 10. King and his two passengers, Elizabeth King, 47, and Abner King, 18, were taken to Lancaster General Hospital for treatment of head injuries, the report says. The horse was injured, the buggy sustained moderate damage and the automobile sustained severe front-end damage.

The Arizona Republic in Phoenix reported on December 18, 2002 that a state trooper injured when he struck and killed a horse is likely to receive $200,000 on the grounds that a sheriff's deputy should have warned him about the danger. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to authorize the settlement with state Department of Public Safety Officer Davis Coughanour. Coughanour hit the horse with his patrol car in May 2000. His attorney says a county sheriff's deputy who was driving ahead of the officer should have warned him horses were in the roadway or stopped and corralled the animals. The deputy reportedly saw two horses on the darkened road but didn't stop. He waited about a minute before contacting dispatchers to warn the officer behind him, according to court records.

            The Yorkshire Post in the United Kingdom reported on December 19, 2002 that bright evening sunlight may have prevented a motorcyclist from seeing two horses before it was too late to avoid a collision in which he was killed, an inquest heard yesterday. A verdict of accidental death was recorded on Gregory James Smith, 42, who was travelling at 68 mph shortly before his cycle hit a horse ridden by Rupert Lawson-Tancred. Mr Lawson-Tancred's wife, Caroline, described how they waited at the end of a bridlepath and allowed traffic to pass before attempting to cross. The British Horse Society qualified assistant instructor told the deputy coroner at the Harrogate inquest: "Half way across the road, I was literally straddling the white line, I suddenly saw a bike appear on the bend. I just thought 'hell it's going fast'."

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal reported on December 21, 2002 that a horse-and-buggy accident Friday night involving two automobiles left four teenagers with minor injuries and closed Route 23 for about two hours as the horse was cared for by a veterinarian. About 6:45 p.m., a horse-and-buggy driven by 18-year-old Chris Blank turned left against a red light from George C. Delp Road onto Route 23. The horse-and-buggy went into the path of a Toyota Camry driven by a 17-year-old male from Denver, police said. The driver of the car hit the brakes and skidded about 60 feet before striking the buggy, knocking it on its side and freeing the horse from its buggy harness. The three male occupants of the buggy remained inside when it was knocked over but the horse got detached from the buggy and started running west down West Main Street. That's when a second accident occurred. The horse, spooked and running fast, was struck head-on in front of New Holland Shopping Center by another Toyota Camry, this one being driven east by Jeudy Tout, 19, of Philadelphia. The horse went over the hood and windshield of the Camry, crushing those parts of the car, and rolled off the right side of the vehicle. Tout's 14-year-old sister, a Leola resident, suffered minor cuts to her head and was taken to hospital for stitches. The horse was treated by a veterinarian for minor injuries.

            D.            Preventing Injuries from Horse Accidents

            Western Morning News in the United Kingdom reported October 4, 2002 on the development in Australia of a new safety device, called Toe Stoppers.  They are designed to prevent riders from being hooked up in the stirrup iron and dragged.  On average, approximately 3000 serious injuries and 20 deaths occur per year in Australia through riders being dragged.  The device is reported now to be in widespread use in Australia.  Many jockeys use them in training and racing. The device is also believed to eliminate the fear of the rider's feet from slipping out of the stirrup, causing the rider to lose balance. 

            The Aberdeen Press & Journal in the United Kingdom reported on October 11, 2002 that October 12 is National Horse and Road Safety Awareness Day.  The British Horse Society recommends that drivers slow down to 15 miles per hour when passing a horse and rider.  Drivers are recommended to pass horses wide and slow, keep a safe distance, not make any sudden or loud noises, expect to see a horse and rider round the next bend and respect the rider's signals.

            The Columbian reported on November 1, 2002 that Pennsylvania state officials are creating a new safety manual for horse-drawn buggy drivers.  Similar to the "Safe Driving in Amish Country" manual in current use, the new manual will focus on common sense and courtesy, with an emphasis on the lights and reflectors the law requires on carriages.  "It is primarily going to be geared toward the Amish, giving them some tips on how to cope with much heavier, faster-moving vehicles than their buggies," said a PenDOT spokesman.  Pennsylvania had 371 horse-and-buggy crashes, killing 18 people and injuring 442, from 1996 through 2000.  In 40 percent of the crashes, the buggies were struck from the rear.

            The Lancaster, Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal reported on October 31, 2002 that the manual on buggy safety to be printed and distributed by PennDOT was written by a Lancaster County group—The Amish Safety Committee.  Members of the Amish community acknowledged to local officials that they are part of the problem with road safety and the manual was largely written by the Amish.  In addition to focusing on reflective devices, the manual will explain the meaning of different road signs, describe proper hand signals when turning and will tell how to make proper turns.  One of the recommendations will be to put reflective ankle bands on horses and additional reflective tape on the sides of buggies.  In Lancaster County, there were 31 accidents involving buggies in 1999 and 34 in 2000.

            The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on October 30, 2002 that members of the Swartzentruber Amish, a conservative sect, have said that the bright orange triangles required by law to be displayed on buggies are gaudy and an offense to God.  They would rather outline their buggies with gray reflective tape, a dispensation awarded to Swartzentruber Amish in several other states.  Some experts say that the tape, attached to the edges of the buggy, is more effective than the triangle.  The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Swartzentruber Amish challenging the lawfulness of requiring orange triangles instead of gray tape.

            National Public Radio's Morning Edition reported on November 21, 2002 that a community in Indiana has built a special road to the local Wal-Mart just for use by the Amish.  The road, which bans motor vehicles, carries Amish travelers from a small county road, behind retain businesses, to the parking lot of the Wal-Mart, where the store provides a special parking lot for the buggies.  The road costs $ 30,000 to build, $10,000 of which was raised by the local Amish community.  Local officials may expand the road to include the entire retail corridor if the current road works well.

            The News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri reported on December 4, 2002 about efforts to deal with road accidents involving Amish buggies.  State law requires that buggies be equipped with a red taillight or red reflective device and at least one light flashing at all times.  An Amish spokesman said, "We've had some complaints from the English that some of the Amish don't pull over when they can.  Everybody on both sides needs to respect each other."  Following two fatal crashes in 2000, the Missouri Department of Transportation took steps to increase buggy safety by constructing gravel pull-offs for the buggies.  The majority of buggies in that part of Missouri are on the road between 6 and 7 a.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. when Amish take their milk to dump stations.  MoDOT plans to resurface some of the roads with a more durable rock to help with the pounding of horses' hooves and buggy wheels.

            The Yorkshire Press in the United Kingdom reported on November 4, 2002 that landowners who have illegally erected more than 100 cattle grids on bridleways across North Yorkshire may be made to remove them because of the danger they pose potentially to horses and riders.  Since 1980, such cattle guards have been lawful on bridleways only if suitable bypass routes allow riders to get around them by opening gates.  But, the Bridleways Association and the British Horse Society urge enforcement on the law against cattle guards on the argument that many bypasses have proved to be inadequate and the routes remain a danger to horse and rider. 

            The Western Daily Press in the United Kingdom carried an editorial on November 15, 2002 explaining what approved helmets do to protect equestrians from head injuries.  When a rider falls, two things occur: first, the helmet diffuses the impact over a larger area; second, the liner reduces bruising to the brain by increasing the length of time it takes for you to stop.  "Concussion" means brain shake.  It is important to replace a helmet after it has been impacted.  The safety cushion provided by the liner is partially destroyed by every impact and thereafter will provide less protection than a new helmet would provide. 

            The San Antonio Express-News printed a letter to the editor on November 28, 2002 about a photo showing a preschool child on a horse without a helmet.  The author of the letter, Charlene M. Morris, is president-elect of the Association of Family Practice PAs.  Her letter makes the point that other athletes—football, baseball, and hockey players—all wear helmets, as do bicycle riders.  She concludes, "Prevention is a lot more important than treatment.  Come on, cowboys of all ages, wear a helmet and live to tell another horse tale!"

            The Memphis, Tennessee Commercial Appeal reported on December 5, 2002 that the American Youth Horse Council, in cooperation with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, has offered a series of safety tips to equestrians.  The areas covered include safe bridling, safe mounting and dismounting, and wearing protective headgear.

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