Horse carriage crash follows push for Chicago ban

CHICAGO (WLS) -- No one was seriously injured when a horse drawn carriage was rear-ended by a van in the River West neighborhood.

Five people, four of them children, were treated and released from the hospital after a van rear-ended a horse-drawn carriage on West Grand Avenue near North Desplaines Street Monday in the River West neighborhood.

Chicago Horse and Carriage owner Larry Ortega said his driver and the horse, Milo, were headed back to their West Side stable around 11:30 p.m. Monday when they were hit. The female driver, 25, was thrown from the carriage.

"The driver flew off the carriage, fell down, and hurt herself. Fractured her wrist. Got some bumps and bruises," Ortega said. "But she's doing fine. We're keeping constant contact with her."

There were no passengers in the carriage. The 10-year-old horse, Milo, wasn't hit by the car, but the carriage harness pushed him forward, Ortega said. He was visited by Chicago Animal Care and Control, the stable was inspected, and a vet will visit on Wednesday.

Four children - three boys, ages 1, 4 and 10, and one 6-year-old girl - who were in the van taken to Lurie Children's Hospital, and later released. They are all recovering and do not have serious injuries, according to the driver of the van.

In February, Alderman Ed Burke argued before the Chicago City Council that horse drawn carriages are "an unsafe and obsolete tradition." He proposes a city ban on the carriages, which is currently pending. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in November 2013 that the carriage law needed updates.

New York City Mayor DeBlasio is also fighting rid the Big Apple of horse drawn carriages. The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals supports those efforts.

"As long as horse-drawn carriages stay on city streets, we're going to see accidents that can and do result in injuries and can potentially even result in death," Ashley Byrne, PETA, said.

However, Ortega said accidents involving horses are rare. He said other modes of transportation are far more dangerous.

"The carriage industry has never suffered a fatality of a horse, a driver, or passenger. We have a very good, as far as transportation goes in Chicago, probably the safest record," Ortega said.
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