Witnesses tell of Bury St Edmunds country fair horror

Witnesses have spoken of the horrifying moment a horse and carriage bolted into the crowd at a country fair - leaving at least ten people injured, one critically.

Terrified visitors screamed and fled as the animal charged at the Nowton Park Country Fair in Bury St Edmunds at around 4.30pm yesterday.

Around 10 people are thought to have been injured, one of whom was described as critically ill last night.

Another of those injured, Cindy Taylor, 65, was knocked to the floor when her mobility scooter was crushed by the horse, which careered through busy crowds at the popular event.

'It was horrendous. Just terrible,' Mrs Taylor of Bury said. 'I was terrified when I saw this horse coming towards me.


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'Something had certainly spooked him.'

The animal, which had earlier been giving horse and carriage rides to visitors at the fair, reportedly broke free from where it was tethered in the avenue of lime trees at the site, running over several people.

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A BMX display had been going on at the time and it is believed many people had their backs to the horse as it approached.

A woman, thought to be in her 40s, is believed to have sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken by air ambulance to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Ruth Mills, 18, from Bury, was watching the entertainment in the main arena with her boyfriend, Jamie Langley, 21, when the horse charged towards them.

'I just remember a lot of screaming and shouting,' she said.

'As I turned around the horse was just behind me. My boyfriend hadn't got out of the way quickly enough and the horse got him in the back.'

Last night Mr Langley from Mildenhall was undergoing X-rays at West Suffolk Hospital to establish the extent of his injuries.

It is estimated that up to ten people may have been injured, many with back and/ or abdominal injuries.

Injured spectators were last night making their way to West Suffolk Hospital, which received seven casualties from the incident.

Andy Bowes, from Sudbury, was part of a crowd of people watching the BMX bike stunt display when the runaway horse ploughed into several people, throwing one person 'eight feet in the air'.

Mr Bowes said: 'I was standing watching the bikes and heard somebody shout 'oh my god, there's a horse' and it was literally 10ft away from me. I managed to throw myself out of the way and as I did I saw it plough straight into the crowd.

'It was horrendous. I don't know what happened, something obviously spooked the horse. The guy standing next to me got knocked 8ft into the air.'

He described how the horse came to a stop and lay down, appearing to lay on top of a person as people tried to make the animal move.

He praised the quick response of the St John Ambulance staff who were on the scene within seconds.

Tony Curd, St John Ambulance County Commander, said: 'Our volunteers were providing medical cover at the event with an ambulance and mobile treatment centre and were able to respond immediately.

'They dealt with multiple casualties under difficult circumstances and are to be commanded for their prompt actions. Our thoughts are with those injured this afternoon, at what should have been an enjoyable Father's Day event.'

An investigation is today getting underway into the exact circumstances surrounding the incident.

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which staged the event, said the council would work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to carry out a full investigation into the episode.

'Our thoughts are with those who were injured and a full investigation will be carried out by the HSE and the council.'

Any witnesses are being asked to call Suffolk Police on 01473 613500.

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