Rich Erickson had only one thought when a spooked horse pulling a carriage careened into him Saturday at an outdoor celebration in Stedman.
"When that horse hit me, I thought I was done," Erickson said Monday.
He was one of several people who were injured when something startled the horse and caused it to bolt into the crowd at Stedman's Party in the Park.
Officials have given conflicting numbers of those who were injured, but at least three people were taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for treatment.
Monday, those who witnessed the incident recalled the chaotic scene as the scared horse ran with two adults and three children in the attached carriage. People were thrown from the carriage as the horse ran through the crowd, finally stopping when it hit a booth.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident, but no details were immediately available.
Erickson, 52, a retired Fayetteville police officer, considers himself lucky to be alive after the accident that happened about 1:25 p.m.
The horse belonged to Glynn Webb, the owner of Yesteryear Carriage Co., who has worked at several events, including one in Eastover last week.
A vendor, Fonda Baker, who lives in Clayton, had a booth set up behind the horse-and-carriage rides. Baker said she saw what appeared to cause the horse to bolt.
"There was this kid, probably between 10 and 14, and he had one of those balloon animals," she said Monday.
"He was right in front of the horse and making noises and acting stupid. Then, he popped the balloon right in front of the horse's nose. He did it on purpose."
The startled horse backed up, veered to one side and "shot off like a rocket," she said.
The boy didn't stick around, Baker said.
Owner holds on
Webb was helping people into the carriage when the horse took off. He was able to jump onto the carriage, holding onto a seat.
The horse ran through the crowd.
Erickson and his wife were standing on Front Street talking to Stedman Mayor Billy Horne and his wife when he looked up and saw the horse coming.
Erickson managed to push his wife out of the way, he said.
"Then, the horse hit me," he said.
Erickson said he remembered being thrown to the ground.
His wife later told him the impact knocked him out of his shoes. One of them was later found about 50 feet away, Erickson said.
The front wheel of the carriage traveled across his stomach, rolling him over. Then, the back wheel ran over his back, he said.
The next thing Erickson remembers is a firefighter standing over him telling him not to move.
Holly Yanosik could only watch helplessly as the horse took off. Her 9-year-old daughter, Lynsey, and a friend were in the carriage with another child and her father.
She said Webb was in the carriage when the horse bolted and then was thrown out.
"The dad tried to stop the horse, and he got thrown off," Yanosik said.
That left the three children alone in the carriage. All three jumped out, said Yanosik, who was running behind the carriage before it went out of her sight.
Lynsey landed between the pavement and grass, hitting her head and suffering a concussion, her mother said.
The other girls landed on concrete and were scraped up "pretty bad," Yanosik said.
Erikson and Lynsey were among those taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Lynsey suffered short-term memory loss and doesn't remember much of the accident.
She was released Saturday and went to school Monday - with a note to be excused from physical education, her mother said.
Erikson's injuries were more extensive, he said.
He was released Sunday, but still has bruising on his stomach and a mark across his back from the carriage wheels. Both knees are swollen, and he has a hematoma on the right side of his stomach.
"Then I have a large scratch across my forehead, and the side of my face is swollen," Erikson said. "The doctor at the trauma unit said it was a miracle nothing was broken."
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