Train hits horse trailer, kills one horse and drags the attached truck 100 yards

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 11:11 p.m.
A CSX freight train plowed into a horse trailer early Tuesday in Archer, killing one of two horses on board, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Oren C. Richardson, 64, of LaGrange, Ky., was driving a Ford pickup hauling a horse trailer behind it south on SW 202nd Street at 8:40 a.m. when the trailer got stuck on the railroad crossing, the FHP said.
The train slammed into the horse trailer, dragging the trailer and the pickup south on the railroad tracks for about 100 yards from the initial point of impact, Trooper Mike Oglesby said. One of the two horses died instantly; the other was not injured.
There are no railroad crossings or barricades to warn motorists of approaching trains, Oglesby said.
But some witnesses say the men had enough time to rescue the horses from harm's way.
Oglesby said that Richardson and his passenger, Joel Ziemer, 45, of Franklin, Ohio, had "several minutes" from the time they got stuck to the time they were aware the train was approaching, but they didn't free the horses from the trailer. Instead, the men concentrated on trying to move the trailer off the tracks, Oglesby said. The men were transporting two mares from Kentucky to Archer.
"They thought they could get the trailer free, but they decided at the last minute to let the (train) hit (the trailer)," Oglesby said.
Richardson nor Ziemer could be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Mike Anderson, 55, of Newberry said he saw the stranded trailer on the tracks on his way from Newberry to Archer Tuesday morning. Further up the road, he noticed the train coming, prompting him to turn around and head back to the trailer and warn the men. Anderson was shocked to find out after the train hit that there were two horses on board.
"They could've got them horses out of there," Anderson said. "They made no effort to them animals out. It ain't the train's fault; it's those two men."
But Sue Smith, owner of a show horse breeding farm where the horses were being transported, said there was nothing the men could do to save the horses. The problem, Smith said, is that once the pickup crossed the tracks, there was only a few feet of pavement on the other side. So when the trailer got stuck, the pickup had no traction to pull it forward or back it up from the tracks, Smith said.
To get the horses out of the trailer, it would've taken time to lower the unloading ramp, then get in and untie the horse in the back of the trailer (which was the one that was killed), then go back into the front of the trailer and let the other horse free.
"There was not enough time," Smith said. "They tried desperately to save them. These men were in such a state of shock."
Smith said that the mares are used for breeding. The one that died was a surrogate mare and was later buried on Smith's farm. The surviving horse is a "valuable" 21-year-old Morgan brood-mare that has bred 17 champion show horses, Smith said.
Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or balld@

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