Horses bolt, killing one woman and injuring 24 others in IowaBELLEVUE, Iowa — The buggy driver whose horses trampled spectators at this town’s Fourth of July parade had tried desperately to stop the rampage, clinging to the reins as the animals dragged him down the street, his family said Monday.
By: By Todd Richmond , The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BELLEVUE, Iowa — The buggy driver whose horses trampled spectators at this town’s Fourth of July parade had tried desperately to stop the rampage, clinging to the reins as the animals dragged him down the street, his family said Monday.
Mardell Steines was in the buggy with his wife, Janet, his daughter-in-law, his 7-year-old grandson and his 5-year-old granddaughter on Sunday when the horses bolted toward the end of the parade, injuring 24 people and killing Janet Steines.
Police said the horses were spooked after they rubbed heads and the bridle fell off one of them. The animals went on a rampage over six blocks, plowing through spectators and children stooping to snatch up candy that had been tossed along the parade route.
“If he ever envisioned a situation would happen that would cause harm to others, it would have destroyed him,” said Ken Walsh, whose daughter was in the buggy. “He was trying his damndest to get those horses under control.”
The buggy struck a combine in the parade and a road sign, Walsh said. Janet Steines was thrown out and struck a concrete driveway. She died at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.
The hitch came undone and the carriage separated from the horses, running over Steines as he held onto the reins, said Walsh, 61, whose daughter, Jenny Steines, is married to Steines’ son.
Steines’ shirt was shredded as the horses dragged him down the street, Walsh said.
Meanwhile, Jenny Steines clutched her children as the carriage rolled over. The roof protected them and they emerged with only bumps and bruises, Walsh said. He wasn’t sure when Mardell Steines let go of the reins, but said he refused medical treatment.
The horses finally rammed into the Maquoketa State Bank float at an intersection. The horses went down, and people leaped on them to hold them down, witnesses said.
John Sawicki of Mount Prospect, Ill., watched the horses from his hotel’s balcony and said he tried to scream at people to move, but no sound came out because he was so shocked.
“They were flying right down the sidewalk,” said the 42-year-old, who was in town to visit his mother. “I felt so helpless.”
Aside from the death of Janet Steines, 24 people were injured, according to the Bellevue Police Department. At least 15 of the injured were children, according to information provided by police, who said two victims still hadn’t been identified.
Most victims had been released by Monday afternoon, but at least two remained hospitalized. More information on their conditions wasn’t available.
Jim Evilsizer, a former paramedic who ran a food cart on the parade route, said he helped put a 10-or-12-year-old boy who apparently took a hoof to the head on a backboard and carry him to a triage area on the Mississippi’s shore.
“It looked like a war zone,” the 61-year-old said. “Backboards everywhere, kids strapped to them.”
Police are continuing to investigate the incident. Bellevue Mayor Virgil Murray said he did not know whether any charges would be filed.
The parade is normally the highlight of the year in Bellevue, which hugs the picturesque bluffs on the edge of the Mississippi River on the far northeastern Iowa-Illinois border. The town of 2,300 swells well beyond that number as thousands of people from miles around line the streets.
“It’s bigger than Christmas,” Murray said.
Steines’ carriage has been a fixture of the procession among the tractors, fire trucks and floats, and horses have been in the parade for decades.
“We’ve had a lot of confidence in the people who come into our parade,” Murray said. “It’s just a freak accident that’s not explainable.”