‘Things have to change’: devastation as two horses killed and riders injured in road collision

  • Two horses suffered fatal injuries and their riders were seriously injured on a stretch of road for which locals have been campaigning for safety measures for years.

    The riders, twin sisters, were taken to hospital after the collision on Woodgreen Road, near Epping Forest, on 7 January. One of the horses, Jack, was put down at the scene.

    The other horse, Cassie, was walked home but later collapsed in her box and had to be put down with a broken pelvis.

    Claudia Nacke, who keeps her horses on the nearby yard at which Cassie (pictured, above) and Jack (below) lived, told H&H the liveries are in shock.

    “An older gentleman who lives on the static caravan site that’s parallel to the road came to the yard [on Sunday] and said he wanted to speak to someone,” she said. “He hadn’t seen the accident but he’d seen the aftermath, and he was crying.

    “It’s not just riders who are affected by this, it’s the whole community.”

    Claudia said another livery was driving towards the yard and saw the incident.

    “She saw the whole thing,” she said. “The girls were hacking towards the forest; there’s a stretch about a quarter of a mile long we have to go on to get there, and they were about 100 yards into it when they were hit by a van from behind.

    “Jack was behind so he was hit first, and from what I understand, he was thrown into the air. He didn’t stand up again. She didn’t see what happened to Cassie but she fell on her rider. Those poor horses.”

    The riders were experienced, and the horses “as bombproof as you can get”.

    “They were fully decked out in high-vis, horses and riders, and the girls had body protectors on,” Claudia said. “How much more you can do to keep yourself safe, I don’t know.”

    Claudia added that riders and pedestrians have been campaigning for safety measures on the stretch of road, which has become a “rat run” to a main route to the M25, for years.

    “There used to be a path, so riders and pedestrians could go along without being on the road but it fell into disrepair in the 1990s,” she said. “Everyone was then pushed on to the road and now the path’s impassable, and has become a dumping ground for fly-tippers. We’ve been trying to get it cleared but with budget cuts, it hasn’t happened.

    “In the 1990s, that road was quiet but it’s not now and there’s nothing there, not even a warning sign to say horses or people crossing. When we asked for some, we were told it would cost about £1,000 and there was no budget for them either. Those would have been fairly easy measures to protect lives.”

    Claudia added that the problem has been made worse recently owing to the fact charges were introduced in Epping Forest car parks, as drivers park on the road to avoid paying.

    “Things have to change now,” she said. “We’re in a situation that’s life-threatening. Those girls were very lucky, in their bad luck, to have survived.

    “The horses were really kind and gentle and their owners put their heart and soul into them; they’re walking around like ghosts.”

    The City of London Corporation, which manages Epping Forest, refused to comment.

    Essex Police said the driver of the vehicle has been reported for careless driving. Anyone with information on, or footage of, the incident is asked to call the force on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. Reports can also be submitted online.

    A spokesman for Essex Highways said: “We are very sorry to hear about this tragic incident. It would be inappropriate for us to comment whilst the police investigation is ongoing.”

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