Spooked carriage horse stampedes through city streets

Posted at 5:12 PM, Aug 16, 2012
and last updated 2013-09-26 17:15:37-04

The horse’s name is Oreo.

He’s six year old, and back in his stable – where it’s safe.

That wasn’t the case Thursday afternoon, when police officers finally caught up with Oreo.

He broke loose from his carriage and bolted four blocks – from Columbus Circle, all the way to 57th street and Ninth Avenue.

Eyewitness Tess Neumann told Pix11’s Jay Dow, “All of a sudden I heard, it sounded like a car crash. And I turned around. And the driver wasn’t holding on.”

Other eyewitnesses tell Pix11 the trouble began as the unidentified driver began a trip at the horse stand on Central Park South.

Something spooked Oreo – possibly a moving vehicle – and the horse broke free of the carriage, ran across Broadway, and down West 60th Street.

“Then I saw the horse break loose, and it just passed me. Everyone was looking in disbelief, like what is a horse doing running down 9th ave”, said eyewitness Mark Hunter.

Stable employees tell us the driver – who was thrown off at Columbus Circle – was taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.

Two paying passengers – a couple in the back of the carriage…were thrown backward to the ground.

The male passenger was taken away on a stretcher, and transported to New York Hospital with various injuries.

This latest carriage horse accident – there was another incident here at Columbus Circle back in June – immediately drew the attention of supportive industry workers, and their critics, who have been calling for an end to this industry for years.

Scott Levenson of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable & Safe Streets told Dow, “It’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured. It’s clearly an industry , time has come and gone. Horse and buggies are something of the last century. NYCLSS has a piece of legislation, 86a, looking to transition this industry into an electric car industry. Don’t lose the jobs, don’t lose the tourism dollars. Safe for everybody.”

But Horse and Carriage Association of New York City spokesperson Christina Hansen says horses are not inherently a problem. “The fact of the matter is that you couldn’t guarantee if you had electric cars in Central Park, or elsewhere, that they wouldn’t get into an accident. Somebody running a red light,  pedestrians stepping out in front of somebody. That’s life”, said Hansen.