Even if you live in Colorado, you may not have heard of the small town of Silverton, population 623. Every year, however, this tiny town holds a festival to celebrate the winter sport of “skijoring” and compete for a $10,000 top prize. This year, at the Eighth Annual Skijoring Race, three spectators were injured when a horse, spooked by a drone that was being flown over the crowd, galloped into a group of people on the sideline. Two women were taken away in an ambulance and one man suffered a gash to his chin.
To give some background, skijoring is a sport in which a skier holds a rope attached to a horse ridden by another competitor, which gallops through the streets. The skier is pulled “through a series of gates and jumps” for four city blocks as quickly as possible. The fastest skier in this year's festival completed the race in 17.92 seconds.
This year, at 1:15 pm on the day of the event, a pair of competitors were ready to begin their race, geared up at the starting line, when their horse became agitated. The handler, Tim McCarthy, saw the drone that was bothering the animal and “yelled and waived at the drone in an effort to make its pilot fly it away.”
Next, the horse bolted from the starting line into a group of 5 to 10 spectators standing along the left side of the track, knocking some of them to the ground. There was a large snowbank behind the group, making it difficult for some of them to move out of the way quickly. One woman suffered a gash to the back of her head, and another had a hip injury.
After the accident, the event was shut down for about 30 to 45 minutes, and the San Juan County Sheriff, Bruce Conrad, told the Durango Herald that flying drones over crowds such as the one gathered during the festival is illegal. Conrad plans to issue a ticket to the owner of the drone.
In addition, the event organizers say that in the future they will not allow drones at the event due to the horses' tendency to be frightened. Next year they will also alter the setup so that spectators cannot stand near the opening gate where there are no barricades protecting them from the animals.
The people in Silverton see the festival as a way of celebrating local culture and bringing business to the town during the off season. The event organizer, Peter Maisel, said, “It's bringing two cultures together, a millennial skier and a cowboy.”
Calvin Hinkley, a resident of Durango who has been competing in the event for six years, said the race is “the biggest adrenaline rush that I've ever had...It's dangerous and it's western. Those horses are snorting, stomping and dripping snot. They're raring to do this – it's just like the skiers.”
If you have been hurt in a preventable or unexpected way, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free case evaluation, act quickly and call the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal today at (303) 825 2223 or contact us online.