A tragic accident involving a horse that was struck and killed after it had broken free from its tether took place Saturday night in Old Town Murrieta.
According to Sgt. Darryl Underwood with the Murrieta Police Department, the department received 911 calls shortly after 8 p.m. advising that a horse was running loose northbound on Washington Avenue through Old Town Murrieta.
A few moments later, officers received reports that the horse had been struck by a vehicle in the roadway on Washington Avenue north of Kalmia Street.
Officers arrived on scene to discover the horse had been struck by two vehicles and was badly injured, having lost its front left leg in the collision.
The horse died at the scene as officers were contacting animal control to determine if the horse should be euthanized.
Underwood said the horse had been tied up in front of Joannies Cantina at 24750 Washington Avenue shortly before the incident.
The halter device restraining the horse — a 13-year-old male– somehow broke and the horse began running up the roadway, Underwood said. The horse made it approximately a quarter of a mile north on Washington Avenue before being struck head-on by a silver Lexus that was traveling southbound.
A Toyota Camry traveling southbound behind the Lexus also struck the horse.
The owner of the horse approached the scene on foot shortly after officers arrived. Underwood described the man as “devastated” about the incident.
According to Underwood, the Lexus was occupied by an adult female who suffered minor injuries. According to Captain Eric Ballard with the Murrieta Fire Department, she refused transport to a hospital and was given a ride home by firefighters. She was very shaken up but was expected to be OK, Ballard said.
The driver of the Camry identified herself as Michelle Smith of Murrieta. Smith and her 9 year-old daughter were driving to Chili’s to meet some friends for dinner when the incident happened. “The car in front of me looked like it exploded,” Smith said. “I’ve been in car accidents before, but I’ve never experienced anything like this,” she said.
Smith, who was very emotional over the incident, said friends had come and picked her daughter up from the scene. “She was crying; she was scared.” Smith said.
Southbound Washington Avenue was closed while animal control professionals worked to remove the horse from the roadway. The horse was relocated to a nearby parking lot shortly after 9 p.m. and the roadway reopened after firefighters washed down the road and cleaned up debris.
Animal control workers were expected to remain on scene until a professional company arrived to remove the horse, Underwood said.
Underwood advised the incident was still under investigation, but he owner of the horse was not expected to face any criminal charges. He stressed that there appeared to be no cruelty or negligence involved, and that the incident appeared to be a tragic accident.