Runaway horse carriage draws attention to carriage safety

Published: Apr. 16, 2014 at 10:51 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2014 at 11:00 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Six people are recovering Wednesday, a day after a wild carriage ride in Savannah.

According to law enforcement, the carriage driver lost control after the horse bolted down city streets.

Horse- drawn carriages are very popular here in Charleston and the General Manager of Palmetto Carriage says there's a balance of control between the horse and the driver.

"Oh, it's terrifying, it happened to me. There are very few situations that you'll be in that you feel that helpless," said Tommy Doyle, general manager of Palmetto Carriage in downtown Charleston.

Doyle says he couldn't help but watch surveillance video of the wild carriage over and over.

"It looks like that from the video; the horse lost its bridle," said Doyle.

The driver is helpless without that piece of equipment.

"I saw the driver pulling back hard and the horse's head wasn't coming in like it would normally," said Doyle.

Doyle says drivers must have driving lines and a bridle to steer a horse.

"Driving a horse on a carriage in the city without a bridle, I would say it's similar to driving a car in the city with no brakes and no steering wheel," said Doyle.

Drivers at Palmetto Carriage must go through a checklist every day.

Doyle says the inspection is vital for the safety of everyone involved especially with the number of people taking carriage rides.

"Charleston has the second largest commercial operation in the country. We are only beat by New York City," said Doyle.

Doyle stands by more than 30 years of experience when he says carriage rides are safe.

Doyle said, "If you look at the hundreds of thousands of people that ride carriages, it can be done and is done safely every day."