GALVESTON — A runaway, horse-drawn carriage ran over the driver Sunday, leaving two Canadian passengers to fend for themselves as it galloped down a historic Galveston street and crashed through a picket fence.
Neither the driver, nor passengers Richard Cote and his wife Michelle Cote from Ottawa, Canada, suffered life-threatening injuries during the roughly 11:45 a.m. crash at 17th and Winnie streets while riding on a Seahorse Carriage.
What caused the crash apparently remained in dispute Sunday, as the female driver and her passengers told differing accounts of what happened.
The driver had her pet Chihuahua along for the ride, police and the passengers said. The carriage was headed west on Church Street when it turned south onto 17th Street, Galveston police Sgt. Annie Almendarez said.
At some point, the dog exited the carriage, the Cotes said.
“I was looking at houses and she jumped out to look for her dog,” Michelle Cote said of the driver. “The wheel ran over her.”
Michelle Cote jumped from the moving carriage and landed on the roadway, but her husband remained aboard, trying to halt the Percheron.
“I couldn’t get ahold of the stupid reins,” Richard Cote said. “It was going too fast.”
Richard Cote suffered a bump and abrasion to his head when he fell to the rear of the carriage, presumably when it cleared the high curb, crossed the sidewalk and crashed into Lynette and Bill Haaga’s front yard.
“I heard a huge crash and ran to the front door,” Lynette Haaga said. “I saw the horse down on the ground and the carriage that came through my front fence.”
As the driver sat on the ground, The Daily News overheard her conversation with an investigating officer. A bag came floating by in the wind, possibly spooking the horse, which began trotting really hard.
When she jumped out to grab the horse, the carriage ran over her, she said. The driver, who suffered injuries to her legs, declined to give her name to the newspaper.
The horse suffered only a bruised leg, a representative of the carriage company said. The owner told the Haagas she would repair the fence.
There were no immediate signs of the missing dog early Sunday afternoon.