CINCINNATI - A woman was rescued Thursday when a car struck the back of a horse-drawn carriage on the Taylor-Southgate Bridge near Cincinnati.
Authorities said the woman was operating the carriage and heading toward Cincinnati when the horse suddenly changed direction just before 5:30 p.m. A car then struck the back of the carriage, causing the woman to launch into the bridge wall and hang over the ledge.
Daniel Blackwell, who was on his way home from work when he witnessed the crash, said he wanted to help the woman but was too far away on the pedestrian side of the bridge.
"I was able to put my arm out and talk to her," he said. "She was awake and obviously out of it. I was able to tell her help was on the way (and) 'Don't squirm around. You're hanging. If you squirm too much you're going to fall.'"
When crews arrived at the scene, they said the woman was in danger of falling into the Ohio River. With help from a good Samaritan, Newport officer Keith Phefferman said he was able to safely remove her from the wall and place her on a stretcher.
She was taken to an area hospital to be treated for injuries, officials said. Her condition was unknown Thursday night.
"She got knocked quite a distance off of that carriage," Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said. "She was laying over top (of the concrete pylon). For some reason when she fell across, she got stuck and she was crossways like a 'T' across the bridge. It stopped her fall."
The bridge was temporarily shut down Thursday evening as authorities cleared the wreckage and moved the horse.
Police said the horse, named Easy, is in good condition. The carriage, owned by Cincinnati business Elegant Carriage, was almost completely destroyed.
The woman driving the car that struck the carriage was not injured. She stayed at the scene during rescue efforts, police said.
Collins said the carriage operator is lucky to be alive.
"I'm telling you this situation could have been a whole lot worse than it was," he said. "She would have gone in the water. There's no two ways about this. It was just horrific."
This isn’t the first time a car struck a horse-drawn carriage on one of the Tri-State's bridges.
Authorities said a woman was driving drunkenly when she ran her car into the rear of a horse-drawn carriage on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge on Sept. 25, 1986.
A passenger of the carriage – Donald Neff of Greenville, Ohio – was thrown and fell to his death in the river, the Associated Press reported.
After the incident, then spokesman for the Cincinnati League for Animal Welfare Tom Donnelly urged city council members to impose safety measures. He said carriage accidents were on the rise and needed to be prevented.
But Michael Jaber, a driver of the business Covington Carriage, told lawmakers not to act hastily to ban carriage traffic from bridges.
“We are an important element in this city…for tourists, and it is a convention city," Jaber said at a City Hall meeting a week after the crash. “It is an important avenue of commerce between cities.
Today, most horses used to pull carriages around Cincinnati are kept in a warehouse on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine.
WCPO Reporter Jason Law and Web Editor Holly Pennebaker contributed to this report.
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