Assateague Horse Okay After Hit-And-Run Incident

Assateague Horse Okay After Hit-And-Run Incident

ASSATEAGUE — For the third time this summer, one of Assateague Island’s famed wild horses was struck by a vehicle on Monday in yet another hit-and-run incident, although “Johnny’s Star” appears none the worse for wear.

Just after 10 p.m. on Monday, a driver on the barrier island witnessed a small sports car strike a horse on the causeway between the bridge and the island. The driver left the scene, so the witness called 911 to report the incident. According to the witness, the horse fell down, but got up and walked away a short time later. Based on the description provided by the witness, Assateague officials believe the horse struck by the vehicle was N2BHS-CK, or “Johnny’s Star.”

After receiving the 911 call, local law enforcement responded to the barrier island and searched the area for the vehicle and the struck horse, but could not find any injured horses in the area. On Tuesday morning, National Seashore officials accounted for and assessed the health of all of the horses in the area. All of the horses were accounted for and none appeared to be injured. Johnny’s Star was later seen grazing on the marsh with Jester and April Star and there appeared to be nothing physically wrong with him. Nonetheless, Assateague officials this week continued to monitor all of the horses in the area for signs of injury.

Monday’s incident marked the third time this year a horse on Assateague was struck by a vehicle, but luckily none of them were killed. However, since 1982, 29 of the barrier island’s most famous residents have been killed by vehicles.

On June 27, an Assateague wild horse, affectionately known as Joy, was hit by a vehicle on Bayside Drive. Unlike this Monday’s incident, the people who hit the horse in July went directly to the ranger station to report it. The people who hit Joy said the horse was part of a larger group that ran suddenly out of the bushes and dashed across the roadway. They told park rangers they immediately applied the brakes, but were unable to avoid hitting the horse, which was struck in the chest by a cooler rack attached to the front of their vehicle.

Fortunately in that case, the visitors were able to slow down to the point where they likely prevented a much more serious injury to the horse. Immediately after the collision, Joy was bleeding heavily from a gash on its chest, but by the next day, the horse was seen grazing with his mares and going about his normal routine.

In late June, the Assateague horse Maggie was apparently struck by a vehicle and suffered an injury to her right front leg along with other injuries characterized as “road rash.” There were no witnesses and the driver did not report the incident, but the evidence was fairly clear Maggie was struck by a vehicle and injured.

The incident this Monday and the two earlier this summer serve as important reminders for local residents and visitors to give the famed wild horses on Assateague plenty of space and pay close attention when the animals are out and about near the roads on the barrier island.

“Drivers must be alert at all times when driving on the island and especially around wild horses,” Assateague officials said in a statement this week. “This is the third wild horse-vehicle collision this year and we’ve been lucky that no horses were killed. However, since 1982, 29 horses have been killed by vehicles. Help us ensure that this number never climbs to 30. Please do your part by obeying all posted speed limits and driving slower than the posted speed limit when approaching horses and other wildlife in or on the side of the road.”