Horses survive accident
November 18, 2005
Horses en route to the Meadowlands, including Love Of My Heart, who is entered to race in the Breeders Crown 2-Year-Old Colt Trot, survived a fiery accident on an interstate in Pennsylvania this afternoon.
A truck driven by trainer Rich Gillock was hit from behind on Interstate 78 when a tractor trailer rig could not come to a stop when traffic slowed in a construction zone. The tractor trailer rig plowed into Gillock's horse trailer, spinning it around. The tractor trailer rig burst into flames after hitting Gillock's gooseneck trailer.
Gillock was uninjured. Traveling with him was Sally Bolon, the wife of trainer Rodney Bolon, who was accompanying one of the her husband's horses scheduled to race at the Meadowlands this weekend. She was also uninjured.
The horses were ejected from the trailer, but because traffic had come to a standstill, they were retrieved before suffering any additional injuries. One horse, Northern Sun, sustained quite a few cuts while the others fared better.
Todd Schadel, the co-owner of Hambletonian champion Vivid Photo, came to the rescue of Gillock and Bolon. Schadel brought his truck and trailer and transported Gillock, Bolon and the horses to the Meadowlands, where the horses were examined and treated by a veterinarian.< br />
After the horses were deemed to be in good health by a vet at the Meadowlands, Bolon and Gillock watched the Breeders Crown elims and shared their story.
“We had come to a stop in an area where there was construction and all of a sudden a tractor trailer just slammed into the back of the trailer, I don’t know if he didn’t see us or couldn’t stop or what. We didn’t see him coming and the noise was just horrible. I was sure I was going to get out and see the horses were dead.”
According to Bolon, the trailer was ripped off the gooseneck hitch and crumpled. The pickup was spun around and smashed into the two cars ahead of them. Amazingly, all four horses emerged from the wreckage and galloped down the highway.
“I was so scared they were going to get over the median into oncoming traffic and be killed,” said Bolon. "Richie was yelling at me to get out of the way of the cars but I thought I had to get the traffic stopped. I think the horses were in shock, they didn’t go far just milled around and people got out of their cars and helped us catch them. The metal bar they were hooked to had snapped and they just had the short length of chain to grab a hold of them.”
The tractor-trailer that struck them caught fire and eventually burned to the ground. Bolon and Gillock and some equine good samaritans helped hold the horses.
“People were so kind, getting us blankets and water and hay from the wreckage of our trailer,” she said. “They pulled grass from the side of the road for them and tried to keep them calm. Standardbreds are calm by nature, but this really shook them up.
“I called [my husband] Rod and he was able to get a hold of Roger Hammer who was already at the Meadowlands,” she said. “He got Todd Schadel and Todd hooked up his trailer and came and got us. The accident shut down Interstate 78 for hours, causing miles long back up.”
“I can’t believe nobody was hurt, considering the wreckage,” Bolon said. “It is just unbelievable that the driver was okay and all the horses are okay. Love Of My Heart and Steeler just had some scrapes on their heads. Steeler’s leg bandages weren’t even wrinkled.”
Northern Sun, who was in the rear of the trailer took the brunt of the impact. “He was cut and banged up the most,” said Bolon. “The story has a happy ending because no one got hurt but it was just horrible.”