Equine Panic Mars St. Patrick's Day Parade
Askittish horse, ridden by a teenage girl, broke free, threw its rider and charged into the crowd lining Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 106 Street during the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday.
"The girl's horse was spooked by a loud noise or a waving banner," said Dr. David Lichtenstein, a local physician who was in a group of six riding horses from Jamaica Bay Riding Academy. "The horse took off so fast that it took a moment to react."
Lichtenstein says that the crowd thought they were showing off, but the girl was clearly in trouble.
"She tried to pull up on the reins and she was terrified," Lichtenstein told The Wave. "It was an instant thing. I tried to grab the reins, but she was already in the crowd."
Among the riders, who have become a yearly attraction in the parade for the past three years, were Lichtenstein, Mark Mima of Howard Beach, his daughter, Thomas Braunworth, Bryan Bernath and Kenny Good. The Wave is withholding the name of the teenage girl because of her age and at the request of her family.
According to police sources, "Devil Dancer," the horse ridden by the girl, threw her and charged into the crowd, injuring Mary Pappas, 54. She sustained cuts to her head. Her five-yearold daughter, who was in her arms, suffered a bruise to her head.
A riderless horse continued to run under the Rockaway Freeway, where it was confronted by a police mounted unit officer. He corralled the horse, but sustained cuts to his head and the left side of his face caused by a kick from the animal.
The teenage rider, who suffered a broken shoulder, and the woman were transported to Jamaica Hospital, where they were treated and released within 24 hours. The young child and the mounted officer were transported to Peninsula Hospital Center, where they were treated and released.
Eyewitnesses said that the crowd scattered when the horse charged the sidewalk. Some bystanders suffered cuts and bruises at the scene, but all refused medical attention from the ambulances that responded.
Mima, however, tells a different story. He claims it was Lichtenstein, and not his daughter, was responsible for the accident.
"He did not control his horse," said Mima, who came to The Wave to ask that both his name and his daughter's be kept out of the paper.
"It's embarrassing with her school friends and all," he continued
Mima said that Lichtenstein dismounted and his horse took off, heading for the crowd.
"My daughter's horse just chased after his horse," he said. "She never lost control of her mount."
He added that his daughter was riding a horse named either "Hot Shot" or "Casino." Police reports say, however, that she was riding "Hot Shot" and there was no horse named "Casino" among the horses in the parade.
Another rider corroborated both Lichtenstein's story and the facts presented in the police report.
Police sources confirmed on Thursday that the officer was kicked by Lichtenstein's horse, but eyewitnesses said that the physician dismounted only to help the injured girl, allowing his mount to run free.
Parade Committee President Mike Benn said that this might be the last year that untrained horses will be allowed to take part in the parade.
"Due to concerns about the safety of the people viewing the parade and also the parade participants marching in the parade, horses will be limited to those properly trained to be used at such functions. We are happy that no serious injuries were sustained because of the accident and our prayers are with those injured for a speedy recovery."