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British Eventing investigates serious accidents

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British Eventing (BE) is currently investigating two recent eventing accidents, one of which was fatal.

The death of Jo-Anne Williams at Sapey horse trials on the 18 April (news, 26 April) shocked the eventing world. Officials at the trials in Worcestershire have reported to BE’s safety committee, and the organisation is also working alongside the local coroner’s office and the Health & Safety Executive.

The newly appointed BE director of sport, Mike Etherington-Smith, told H&H the investigation was in its early stages.

He said: “When I’ve seen the safety committee report, we will look at what lessons, if any, can be learned.”

The accident took place at the eighth fence at Sapey where Jo-Anne’s 14-year-old gelding, Shannandoah, struck the top of the bench-style obstacle, and fell. Jo-Anne, 34, is understood not to have collided with her mount as she was thrown.

Jo-Anne was airlifted to Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital, where surgeons found she had sustained a displaced aorta. They were unable to operate and she died of internal bleeding.

The second BE investigation involves rider Claire Lomas, who suffered spinal injuries in a cross-country fall at Osberton Horse Trials on 5 May.

Mr Etherington-Smith told H&H: “I understand Claire jumped the fence all right but what happened immediately afterwards is still speculation. We are looking into it.”

Claire, 27, has competed at advanced level, and was running her intermediate ride Rolled Oats II, at Osberton. She told H&H that the pair landed well after fence 18, a trakehner, but then each went “different sides of a tree”.

Claire was airlifted to Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham where she underwent surgery for dislocated vertebrae, broken ribs, a neck fracture and collapsed lung.

Last Thursday she came out of intensive care and was moved to the Spinal Injuries and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre at Northern General Hospital in Nottingham.

Claire’s mother, Joyce, told H&H that Claire’s spinal cord is swollen and damaged and that doctors have prepared them “for the worst”.

“She has no feeling in her legs still and doctors have said she might not walk, but Claire says she will walk again,” said Mrs Lomas. “The most progress is apparently made between two and six weeks, and it’s two weeks now, so we have our fingers crossed. She’s a toughie.”

This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (24 May, ’07)