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Horse-Drawn Carriage Accident

Spooked horses bolt at a funeral

Feb 8 2008
By Chief Reporter Greg Truscott - South London -

MOURNERS were mortified when a horse hearse horror turned a funeral into a fracas.

Relatives reeled as the horse-drawn carriage containing the coffin of their lost loved one was tipped over and dragged 80m through Lambeth Cemetery after one of the animals bolted.

Mourners watched in disbelief as the coffin was tossed around inside the funeral carriage sending floral tributes flying.

The hearse's groom is believed to have suffered a broken arm when she was thrown from the cart as the horses charged.

Police then had to be called when mourners' shock turned to anger at the unexpected accident on the sombre occasion.

But the funeral went ahead after officers diffused the volatile situation and calmed tempers.

One mourner said: "It was dreadful. The horses dragged the carriage through the cemetery on its side, tossing the coffin all over the place and destroying all the flowers inside.

"I couldn't believe what had happened. Some people got very angry and had to be restrained by other mourners.

"It is understandable given the circumstances. I'm horrified that something like this could happen."

The cause of the accident, which happened at Lambeth Cemetery in Blackshaw Road, Tooting, on Friday, January 25, is not known

One source said the horses could have bolted after the funeral car taking relatives into the cemetery drew up sharply ahead of the horse-drawn carriage, forcing the groom to sudden evasive action.

The groom was an experienced horseperson and both animals were highly trained and used to traffic and crowds.

A spokeswoman for Ashton Funeral Services, the undertakers which organised the funeral, said an investigation was under way.

She said: "We are deeply concerned at the turn of events at Lambeth cemetery and we offer the family our sincere apologies for the distress caused.

"Ashton Funeral Services has been serving the community in Brixton for many years. Our staff are understandably concerned for the family and the care of the deceased. We waived all fees relating to the funeral and will continue to liaise with the family"

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead. 

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