A New York family visiting Savannah, Ga., says their horse carriage trip turned into a "terrifying, horrifying" nightmare when the horse pulling them got spooked and took off, galloping through busy intersections and crashing into five vehicles.
Marcie Hille, from Sleepy Hollow in Westchester, was riding in the carriage through Savannah's historic district with her mother and three children when the horse started running.
"We had pulled up in front of our hotel and we were getting ready to get off," she told NBC 4 New York. "The driver turned around and said something to us, and the horse got spooked and took off."
The horse and carriage sped around a corner and slammed into a parked car.
"I figured that might have been it, maybe this was over. And then the horse backed up and started going down another street," said Hille.
Surveillance video from the scene, obtained by WSAV-TV, shows the horse bounding into parked vehicles, weaving between cars on narrow streets and galloping against traffic through busy intersections.
The horse then ran into another car, and the carriage operator went flying.
"She just flew to the front of the carriage," said Hille.
At that point, the family was alone in the carriage and they knew they had to get off. Hille saw a chance when the horse slowed down to make a turn.
"People came from all over and tried to help," she said. "They were so nice and so helpful."
When Hille's son got his flip-flop caught as he was getting off, someone came over to grab him and help him out, she said.
Her mother's pants also got caught on the wheel and "she was kind of dragging along the side of the carriage, and I couldn't get to her. People came from all over and were lifting her up as we tried to get her unstuck, and then I hopped off."
Police say the horse, named Oscar, ran wild for six blocks before employees at a nearby restaurant caught up with the animal and calmed it down with carrots. The horse was not hurt, according to police.
Authorities say the 37-year-old carriage operator was taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Hille and her family were not hurt but she says the experience was traumatizing.
"We were all in shock. We were all physically exhausted," she said.
Coincidentally, Hille's children love to ride horses and her daughter Grace is going to horse camp this summer.
While Hille says her family "may stay away from the horse carriages in the future," Grace seems a little more resilient.
"I've fallen off a horse before, and it's not bad. This is the worst I've ever had it, but it won't stop me from riding," she said.
-- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.