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Downtown Carriage Driver Run Over by Runaway Buggy

By Lori Yount - BEAUFORT GAZETTE - March 15, 2007

A carriage tour driver was run over by a buggy Wednesday after the horse got spooked, leaving the woman in fair condition at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, according to authorities. The 20-year-old Sea Island Carriage Co. driver was on the ground walking and leading the horse and buggy with two passengers in it past a large Coca-Cola truck on Craven Street from the Old Point neighborhood and was about to cross Carteret Street shortly after noon. Authorities say the horse was spooked as the driver was trying to get back on the buggy. The horse bolted and pulled the carriage over the driver, according to Beaufort police. The two out-of-town visitors were taken for a wild ride down Craven Street until the male passenger took the reins and stopped the horse and carriage in a parking lot near the intersection of Craven and Charles streets, Beaufort Deputy Chief of Police Maj. Matt Clancy said. No injuries were reported to the couple or the horse, he said. The driver was taken by Beaufort County EMS to the hospital. Her name wasn't being released because of confusion over her last name since she was recently married.

Though rare, incidents involving horse-drawn carriages have resulted in injuries in the past. In 2003, a Pennsylvania woman received minor injuries after being dragged more than 100 feet by a spooked horse pulling a SouthurnRose Buggy Tours carriage near the Downtown Marina parking lot. Sea Island Carriage Co., owned by Walter Gay, is in its first year of operation after winning a city bid to operate one of the two buggy-tour companies in downtown Beaufort. The city only allows two carriage companies to operate downtown and last year awarded new contracts that will run through 2011. SouthurnRose Buggy Tours won the other contract. Gay said the driver and General Lee, the 4 1/2-year-old Belgian draft horse, did a "good job" and no one is at fault. The company will resume tours once the driver has recovered, he said. "She appears in good spirits," said Gay, who visited her in the hospital and said her injuries seemed to be mostly bruises. No charges are expected in the case, Clancy said. "We're not going to lock the horse up," he said.

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