An 11-year-old Cotati girl was injured Saturday when an out-of-control horse and carriage she was riding in crashed into a pickup in Petaluma.
Jim Crawford, 63, of Pleasanton was giving the girl a ride in a buckboard-style carriage along the shoulder of East Washington Street near Rooster Run Golf Course when the horse was spooked and took off running, Crawford said.
Lady, the 8-year-old Haflinger, ran the carriage into a sign, throwing Crawford, who hung onto the reins and was dragged a few feet before letting go.
"I saw the sign and thought 'Oh no,'" he said. "It was ugly."
Crawford said he didn't know what caused the horse to bolt.
Martin Sessi was driving his Toyota Tundra eastbound when he saw the horse and carriage barreling toward him without a driver and positioned his truck to block the runaway animal.
"I was just thinking about that girl," he said. "I thought, 'Oh my god, let's get this thing stopped.' But the horse's eyes were just wide. It had lost all control at this point."
The carriage hit the truck, throwing the girl to the ground, Sessi said. The horse broke free of the carriage and continued down the street and into a residential neighborhood.
Petaluma Mayor David Glass was about to tee off on the first hole of Rooster Run Golf Course when he saw the accident unfold.
"What I saw was a little girl screaming so loudly and terrified," he said. "She was riding in a carriage with a horse out of control. You could hear a sickening thud as the carriage went into the truck."
The girl was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with cuts and scrapes on her face. Crawford suffered cuts and bruises and did not go to the hospital. The horse sustained minor injuries and was treated by Petaluma Animal Control. Sessi's truck had minor damage, and the carriage had a smashed wheel.
"Probably the most fortunate thing that could happen was hitting the truck," Glass said. "If the carriage kept going down the street, it could only end badly."
Crawford, who keeps the horse at a farm on East Washington Street, said he has been driving Lady and the 18th century-style carriage for the past two years without incident. He was planning on offering carriage rides at the Heirloom Expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds next month, but said he may reconsider.
"We'll probably go to the expo, but we won't give rides," he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.