A suspected drunken driver slammed into the back of a horse trailer traveling on Interstate 10 on Sept. 8 in the Cabazon area.
The crash happened at about 2:30 a.m. near the Main Street exit in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10. A woman suspected of driving under the influence crashed into the trailer at a speed of about 80 mph to 90 mph, according to information provided to Riverside County Animal Services’ responding officer.
Its impact was so violent that one of two horses inside the trailer got loose from its halter and spilled out the mangled back doors. The crash caused severe injuries to that horse.
“It is my understanding that the suspected drunken driver hit the trailer with enough force that the horse slipped out of its halter,” said Animal Services Sgt. Lesley Huennekens, the responding officer. “That was the power of the impact. Imagine a slingshot with an 800-pound animal.”
She said the horse, a young, male Appaloosa named Oliver, was forced forward and then backwards so fast that it fell out the back. For a few minutes, the horse was running loose on I-10, but the transport driver was able to wrangle it.
The California Highway Patrol responded with three units.
“All of its injuries were likely caused by the falling out of the mangled doors,” Sgt. Huennekens said. “Its sheer luck that this horse survived.”
The horse trailer was being towed by a man transporting the two horses from Winchester to Texas. He was not believed to have suffered serious injuries. The second horse, also, did not appear seriously injured. However, the trailer was no longer usable.
The suspected drunken driver was transported to an area hospital for treatment. It was unknown later on Saturday whether she had been arrested or booked on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Sgt. Huennekens immediately contacted an emergency equine veterinarian and transported the horse to the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus for treatment. The veterinarian, Dr. Celeste Spini of the Temecula Creek Equine, examined the horse and provided the patient with fluids and critical treatment to give Oliver a chance at survival.
“I must also give credit to the driver,” Sgt. Huennekens said. “He applied a makeshift tourniquet on the horse’s right hind leg where it was seriously bleeding. The tourniquet appeared to be a belt and a plastic peg of some short. Had he not done that, I don’t think we would have had as good of a result.”