Three men riding their horses eastbound in the dark on the Pecan Avenue overpass over State Route 99 early Sunday evening were struck from behind by a car moving about 40 mph, according to the Madera Police Department.
One man, in his late 50’s, sustained major injuries when he was bucked from his horse to the pavement. The man remained hospitalized in Community Regional Medical Center as of Tuesday.
Two other riders sustained minor injuries as the car plowed into the rear horse and pushed forward into the other two horses and riders.
All three horses were struck down and struggling in the roadway when police arrived. They were so seriously injured they were put down by officers to
end their suffering,
according to Madera Police Sgt. Felix Gonzalez.
The incident happened just before 6 p.m. as a larger group of riders was headed back to the farm where they stabled their horses on nearby Road 28.
Gonzalez said the incident remained under investigation, and the speed of the car may have played a factor in the collision. The driver was a 20-year-old man from Madera.
“The poor horses were down, struggling, unable to get up. They had visible broken bones and legs. It was just a really tragic and devastating collision,” Gonzalez said. “The riders were emotional and upset, and were asking us to put them down, especially due to the location on the overpass and the safety concerns ... but it’s still just one of the worst things you ever have to do,” Gonzalez said.
The driver may be cited for driving too fast for conditions, according to Gonzalez.
“The horses were walking in the (traffic) lane on the overpass and there was no sidewalk,” said Gonzalez. “But even riders on horses need to follow the rules of the road. Whenever riders are in or near the roadway especially near dark they should have reflectors, or lights to warn drivers and these did not. A vehicle behind the group of horses would have also been a good idea and likely could have prevented this incident. I also think I would have taken another, safer route,” said Gonzalez .
Pecan Avenue was closed for several hours as the incident was investigated and the area was cleared.