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Car hits horse-drawn Va. holiday wagon; 14 hurt

The Associated Press

STANLEY, Va. — Fourteen people on a holiday wagon-ride in a small western Virginia town were hurt Tuesday when a car rear-ended the horse-drawn wagon, authorities said.

About 20 adults and children were on the wagon with bolted-down benches and wrought-iron sides and back, which helped protect the riders some, said Police Chief Timothy Foster.

The driver of a 2006 Mustang was not paying attention and slammed into the wagon about 8 p.m., knocking the wagon driver into a yard along Main Street, Foster said. The Clydesdale horses pulled the wagon and riders for 100 yards before it hit an electric pole.

The horses bolted and were caught later, Foster said.

Thirteen people, including the wagon driver, were taken to a local hospital and one woman with a compound fracture of her leg was airlifted to another, Foster said. None of the injuries was life-threatening, he said.

The car’s driver was not hurt and has been charged with reckless driving, Foster said.

Neither speed nor alcohol were believed to be factors in the crash, Foster said. The wagon was equipped with flashing lights, reflective signs and tape, and holiday lights and should have been easily visible, Foster said.

Arnold Dean, the wagon driver, had internal injuries, Foster said.

“We’ve been doing this 20-something years and never had an accident,” Sherrie Dean, Arnold Dean’s wife, told the Daily News-Record of nearby Harrisonburg. “This was the last ride tonight, bless their hearts.”

Stanley Fire Chief Terry Pettit said the wagon-ride was organized by Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The church rented the wagon from Dean’s Horse Drawn Carriage and Wagon Rides of Elkton to take people for rides around town as part of an annual Christmas celebration, church members told the newspaper.

Stanley is a town of about 5,500 people 60 miles north of Charlottesville.