Good Samaritan saves girl in runaway horse-drawn carriage


On Saturday morning, 63-year-old Pleasanton man James Crawford and his horse "Lady" were providing horse-drawn carriage rides at a family event at a home on East Washington Street, according to police.

Around noon, an 11-year-old Cotati girl was riding in the carriage on East Washington Street when the horse became spooked and took off running at full speed, police said.

Police said Crawford tried unsuccessfully to stop his horse, which steered into a city traffic sign, causing the man to be ejected. Crawford tried to hold onto the reins of the carriage and was dragged for several yards before losing his grip.

Meanwhile, 58-year-old Petaluma resident Martin Sessi was driving eastbound on East Washington Street when he saw Crawford get ejected from the runaway carriage, according to police.

Seeing that the horse was running down the middle of the street toward him with the girl in tow, Sessi pulled his Toyota Tundra out of the roadway, according to police.

Police said the horse ran past the front of the truck but the carriage collided with it head-on, stopping the carriage from being pulled into oncoming traffic.

The girl suffered minor to moderate injuries and was taken to a local hospital. Crawford was also treated for injuries that are not considered life-threatening, police Lt. Ken Savano said.

Savano said police are "very thankful that (Sessi) was paying attention and being an alert driver" and that his actions likely prevented the girl from suffering greater injuries.

After the collision with the truck, the horse broke free from its reins and ran into a nearby neighborhood.

The animal was located a short time later with minor injuries and was being monitored Petaluma Animal Control officers, police said.

The collision remains under investigation and any additional witnesses are asked to call Petaluma police Officer Paul Accornero at (707) 778-4598.

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