published Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Horseback hit-and-run accident ends race through Louisiana town

OPELOUSAS, La. — It was a hit-and-run accident where the offending party rode away on his horse.

Opelousas police continue to investigate a Wednesday horse race through the center of this town of 16,000, reports The Daily World. It ended with one rider racing through a stop sign and colliding with a minivan on a busy street.

Witnesses say two young men were racing when one hit the minivan. The driver of the van wasn't hurt, but the horse smashed its head through a side window and hit the van hard enough to leave a dent.

"They passed right in front of our school," said Julius Alsandor, assistant principal at South Street Elementary School and an Opelousas alderman. "They were flying just like if they were racing at Evangeline Downs."

Evangeline Downs is a local horse racing track.

The driver says the horse reared up after the accident and the pair then raced off, still on their horses.

Witnesses say the horse appeared to be seriously injured, leaving blood on the van.

"The horse's head appeared misaligned with its body, and as it galloped away, it was moving in a gimpy manner," Alsandor said. "Something serious happened to this horse."

Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow said authorities could charge the rider with animal cruelty.

"We want that horse to get medical attention," Gallow said. "We hope the rider understands that."

What other charges the rider might be facing are unclear.

"We certainly can't charge him with reckless driving. A horse isn't a vehicle," said Sgt. Rodney May, who was investigating the accident.

May said the rider could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Gallow said it is illegal to ride a horse in the city, and both men could be charged with violation of that ordinance.

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