Assateague Horse Struck, Killed By Vehicle On Labor Day

The approach to the bridge leaving Assateague was where the horse was struck last night. File Photo The approach to the bridge leaving Assateague was where the horse was struck last night. File Photo

ASSATEAGUE – An otherwise perfect Labor Day on Assateague on the symbolic end of the summer season ended on a sad note on Monday night when one of the wild ponies that inhabit the island was struck and killed by a vehicle near the approach to the Verrazano Bridge.

Around 8 p.m. on Monday, a wild pony was struck by a vehicle leaving the parks on the causeway approaching the bridge. The horse, identified as T3KR, an alpha-numeric designation used to name the 100-plus wild inhabitants of the island, was a 20-year-old bay mare. The horse reportedly stepped into the path of a moving vehicle, according to Assateague Island National Seashore officials.

The accident occurred as the vehicle was leaving the park area and headed toward the bridge. The driver was not injured, but was cited for unsafe operation of a motor vehicle. Initial reports state the horse stepped into the path of traffic. It is believed the horse died instantly after being struck by the vehicle. The horse was a member of a group of wild ponies known as Jester’s band, or the causeway band. It is often the first band of horses visitors encounter after crossing the bridge onto the barrier island.

The unfortunate incident is a reminder of the importance of using care and caution while driving on the island and interacting with its famous wild inhabitants. The ponies, which number over 100, often interact and mingle with the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the island with sometimes dangerous or deadly results.

Many of the horses inhabit wild and seldom visited areas of the island, but more than a few can routinely be seen in and around the visitor areas, interacting with vehicles, beach goers and campers. Of the 29 horses that have been killed on the roads on the island since 1982, 16 have been on the causeway near the bridge.

“It is essential that visitors to the island understand that horses can move quickly,” said Assateague Island National Seashore Chief of Interpretation and Education Rachelle Daigneault on Tuesday. “A horse may be startled into traffic by something going on nearby that is not obvious to the driver. It is the responsibility of each driver to be aware of wildlife and move with caution when driving on the island.”

Daigneault said many of the horses interact with island visitors, who often mistake them for domesticated animals. However, it is important to remember the ponies are wild animals and caution should always be used when encountering them.

“Horses can often be found near roadways,” she said. “Visitors sometimes lure them to the roads and even to their vehicles with food. The volunteer Pony Patrol plays an important and valued role in educating visitors about the dangers of interacting with the horses and also in safeguarding both horses and visitors. Even so, the issue of petting and feeding the horses also remains a challenge for us.”

19 thoughts on “Assateague Horse Struck, Killed By Vehicle On Labor Day

  1. So sad to hear this. My husband and I visited Ocean City, MD the area for the first time in several years and drove out to Assateague one morning. We were fortunate enough to see many horses that day, some even crossing the water. There were 2 that were definitely mom and offspring!

  2. “The driver was not injured, but was cited for unsafe operation of a motor vehicle. >>> So they were at fault. Loser. Should be banned from the park forever.

  3. People need to slow down and respect their home ! We are just visitors ! They live there!
    I love to go and take pictures of them ,my husband and I will hope in the car and come to the island just to see how many ponies we can count ! This really angers me that we lost another one.

  4. So sad…what is the speed limit there? I was there about two weeks ago & my sister & I saw more horses on/near the roadway & none in the trail areas. Driving at about 5 mph at the most its a must. We are visitors to their home.

  5. Yesterday was my first visit to Assateague island, I came just to see the ponies. It was a beautiful day and I got some amazing photos.
    I was leaving around 8 pm and was almost to the bridge when the rest of this herd almost ran over us, the next thing I saw was a couple of cars pulled off the road and then the pony, it did not die instantly, it was thrashing around trying to get up, it was awful to see.
    Now when I remember this beautiful day, I will always see this beautiful animal dying in the road because of some STUPID, CARELESS DRIVER. THANKS FOR SCARRING MY BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES, A..HOLE.

  6. Wow Miss Lisa.

    Rest assured ~ justice in these parts will be fair and swift! Always has been that way for vacationers!

    Day 2 of having OC back to the locals…and its still Summer!!!!!! NFL HH begins shortly!


  7. Vehicular Homicide. Time to stop just slapping the wrist and make a statement. If the speed limit is extremely low in high incident areas, and enforced, vehicular accidents could be minimized or even eliminated.

  8. I am saddened by this news. Ive never had the priveliedge of visiting there, but as a horse owner ,and lover I hope justice will be served.

  9. They should drop the speed limit even more. I’ve see people flying through the park many times as if they’re in their own world.

  10. I arrived to see this after this happened around 9pm. The horse had passes away and they had it covered. They were administering a Sobriety test on the driver. Curious as to the results. The speed limit were the horse was hit is 20mph. The vehicle clearly showed he was not driving 20mph it was pretty tore up. Not saying he was speeding but from the looks of the vehicle I would put my money on he was going faster then 20mph. It’s ashame and I’m glad my daughter did not see this but I understand why it’s important for visitors to not interact with the wildlife.

    • The speed limit were the horse was hit is 20mph. . .Not saying he was speeding but from the looks of the vehicle I would put my money on he was going faster then 20mph.

      Going faster than posted speed limit = speeding

  11. Another example why carriage horses are unsafe too. A horse can move fast and unexpectedly. If your going to an island to see wild horses, slow down.

  12. I visited Ocean City, Maryland and tis Island for the first time 16 Aug 2013 – 24 Aug 2013. I was amazed at the horses and so was my daughter who had me to stop while she took an enormous amont of pictures. I am so sad to hear about the horse and even more saddened about the driver, who will forever remember that they hit and killed one of Gods creatures. It will haunt them forever and anyone else who witnessed it.

  13. Poor pony! I have driven this exact stretch of road many times and I do believe that this driver would have had to be speeding in order for this to happen–an accident severe enough to kill the pony. If a driver is paying attention and driving the speed limit there is little chance of killing a pony even if the herd crosses suddenly in front of you. All it takes is paying attention and looking at where the ponies are on the side of road. Sometimes you have to slow down to just a few miles an hour. These creatures have the right-of-way. So sad. My heart goes out to the Rangers and volunteers of Assateague.

  14. What a shame. Such beautiful wild ponies and it is great that kids and families have an opportunity to visit them at their home. I hope that this unfortunate incident won’t change that.

  15. As a member of the Pony Patrol, I was greatly saddened to hear of this loss. On my shift I have often come in contact with these bands. I have often seen them in the road, and it is difficult to keep the traffic under control. PLEASE DRIVE SAFELY.

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