4 injured as horses run amok at Emerald Downs

4 injured as horses run amok at Emerald Downs »Play Video
A security guard escorts a handler away from the starting gates at Emerald Downs on Saturday after a horse went berserk and slammed him against the gate. An earlier incident at the track injured three people.
AUBURN, Wash. - Three men were injured Saturday when a pair of horses broke loose from their handlers at Emerald Downs and began galloping across the grounds, emergency officials said.

A fourth man was injured in another incident when a horse went berserk at the starting gates in a later race.

One of the victims in the first incident, a 69-year-old man, suffered life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after one of the horses crashed into him, said officials with Valley Regional Fire Authority.

According to spectators who witnessed the first incident, two horses were being readied for the third race when one of them (No. 5) got loose from its groom in the paddock area and broke away. During the commotion, a second horse (No. 2) also broke loose.

The horses threw their jockeys and began galloping back towards the stables.

One of the jockeys was injured as he was thrown and was carried away on a stretcher to an ambulance, witnesses told KOMO News. He was taken to Auburn Regional Hospital, officials said.

When the two horses reached the barn area, one of them collided with a 69-year-old man, a horse owner, who was in the area.

Medics with Valley Regional Fire Authority said he suffered life-threatening injuries. According to witnesses, the man suffered a broken leg and a damaged eye.

"It was very sad - very sad for humans and for horses," said Karen Angelou, who was at Emerald Downs and witnessed the incident.

Adrian Buchan, marketing director of Emerald Downs, identified the injured horse owner as Tony Schiro. He said Schiro "got the worst of it" but was conscious after the impact.

A third man also was injured during the incident. He was treated at the scene and released, according to Valley Regional Fire Authority.

The incident ended when one of the horses crashed into a tree, and the other was corralled by track personnel, witnesses said.

The horse that collided with the tree was seriously hurt and had to be put down, according to witnesses.

About an hour later, another horse went berserk at the starting gate just before another race. He threw his jockey and slammed another man up against the gate, injuring his arm.

The man was able to walk from the scene, cradling his arm as he went, escorted by security personnel.