CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Five people were sent to hospital after a team of Belgian draft horses broke away from their load Thursday night at the Jefferson County Fair.
The team was being prepped to pull the weighted sled in competition and the handler had already given them command to pull when something either broke or became disconnected. The team took off, without the weight of the sled to hold them back. The handler was dragged down the track trying desperately to bring the team back under control.
“To them is was probably a really easy pull. They got excited more than anything because they were sailing down the track in a very fast fashion as opposed to how they normally are with a couple thousand pounds behind them,” said Jefferson County Fair Manger Todd Wilt.
Video posted to Facebook and Twitter showed the handler trying to regain control of the frightened team, but with no success. According to Wilt, the team streaked down the track and eventually ran over a group of people watching another event at the fair’s motor park area.
Reports of multiple people injured at Jefferson County WV Fair after draft horses got loose tearing through fair goers. Unclear of extent of injuries. Video posted to Facebook show the start of the incident. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/mpYjFjknYR
— Van Applegate (@vbagate) August 23, 2019
Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty said five people were transported by ambulance after the incident for medical attention. Four of the victims were treated at Jefferson Medical Center. The fifth victim, a woman, suffered compound fractures and was taken to Winchester Citizens Hospital in Virginia.
“Their driver made a valiant attempt to stop them. He was dragged for probably 100 yards as he tried to stop them. He finally let go of the leads and the horses ran toward a crowd of people unfortunately and ran into those folks,” Wilt said.
The team was finally brought under control when one of the horses fell and slowed them enough for others to get to their reins. One of the horses suffered injuries in the incident and was seen by a vet back in Pennsylvania where the team was from.
“We’ve had our horse pull for 45 years and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened,”
Although the incident certainly dampened the spirit of the fair, the pulling events resumed after all of those injured were attended and order was restored at the facility. Although serious, none of the injuries was believed to be life threatening.