Rider in hit and run rushed to hospital after collapsing the next day

  • A riding instructor who had to perform CPR on her son the day after he was involved in a hit and run is calling for drivers to be more aware on roads.

    James Skull was hacking homebred six-year-old part-bred Andalusian gelding Fuego down Mill Road, Beaford during late afternoon on 4 December when a car came round a bend towards them.

    James’ mother, Val Skull told H&H: “James was five minutes from our farm and was hacking downhill towards a bridlepath. It’s a single track road with hedges either side and a small black car came flying around the corner towards them. The car must have been going fast to have startled Fuego, normally when you’re going uphill round a corner you slow down but they didn’t.

    “Fuego is so good in traffic, he is as 100% as you can get in a horse, but he was so startled he reared up and his front hooves came down on the bonnet of the car. I’m grateful as otherwise the car would have rammed into him and he probably would have been put down with broken legs. He reared again and went over backwards on top of James.”

    Seventeen-year-old James, who is currently working through his British Horse Society stages and hopes to become a riding instructor, was knocked unconscious and the driver left the scene.

    “James came round and phoned my husband who went to them. Thankfully someone from the village had also arrived and stayed with James while my husband took Fuego back to the yard then went back for James,” said Val.

    “We took James to the hospital and the doctors think he has broken his wrist but he needs more x-rays in two weeks. He sprained his ankle but otherwise they thought he was ok and he was sent home.”

    The next morning James began being sick and Val made the decision to take him back to hospital.

    “I told him to go and get dressed and he went back to his room. As I was getting ready I called out to James and there was just silence. I went to his room and he appeared to be asleep but I shook him and couldn’t wake him. I called an ambulance but gradually his breathing became less and less and I was told by the operator on the phone to get him on the floor and start chest compressions,” said Val.

    “Thankfully I’m first-aid trained. I think I gave him about 30 chest compressions and all of a sudden he took a huge gulp of air, but he was confused and didn’t know who he was or where he was.”

    An air ambulance attended but due to bad weather conditions James was taken to hospital by land ambulance.

    “At first they thought he had a bleed on the brain, but the scans found he had severe concussion. Thankfully everything has gone the right way, he’s still here and he’s getting better – it could have been a whole lot worse. It’s been a huge scare, I’m still in shock,” said Val.

    Fuego suffered scrapes in the accident but avoided serious injury.

    “We’ve been turning Fuego out in the field and he seems ok, but we’re going to have a back specialist out to check him,” said Val. “James used to long-rein Fuego for miles, they have a special bond. Fuego has always been so good with cars but it shows how scared he must have been. We will need to see if he will be ok in traffic going forward.

    James has not been back on a horse since. That’s the next thing we’ll need to do is get him back on board once he’s well enough; riding is his future profession. There’s still a lot of question marks, he’s been so quiet since. At the end of the day Fuego isn’t hurt and James is getting better and that’s what I have to hold on to.”

    Val said drivers need to be more aware on the roads.

    It’s not just horses, it could have been someone walking their dog on the lane, or a cyclist,” she said. “Where we are based we need to hack to get to a ménage so we have to use the road, James was hacking to get off the road.

    “Riders also have a responsibility on the roads to make sure they are being safe and wearing high visibility clothing and can be seen, and James did that – he was wearing his hat, he was wearing a full high visibility jacket.”

    A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said they are appealing for witnesses and information: “The car collided with the horse causing the rider to fall and then left the scene of the collision making no attempt to check on the welfare of the rider or horse.

    “It’s believed that the vehicle involved was a small black car, possibly a Vauxhall Corsa with an 08 plate.

    The vehicle is likely to have damage to its bonnet and front end so I would appeal to any local garages or body repair shops that have repaired a vehicle of this description since the incident, to contact police”.

    Any one with information is asked to contact 101@dc.police.uk quoting log number 650 of 4 December.

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