Media Coverage

New York Times - January 9, 1999

Carriage Horse Is Electrocuted on Street 

One of the carriage horses that charm tourists and lend a touch of history and romance to the bustling Manhattan streetscape was electrocuted last night when it stepped on a steel Con Edison service box cover on East 59th Street between Park and Madison Avenues.

The 7-year-old horse, Jackie, kicked her driver in the head after stepping on the cover, then collapsed and died. The carriage had no passengers, and the driver, Stephen Hand, suffered only minor injuries.

Mike Spall, a spokesman for Con Edison, said it appeared that the horse came into contact with an underground electric service box that had been energized by a short circuit. The wet weather, combined with the spreading of salt, which can corrode wires, appeared to contribute to the short circuit, he said, adding that the investigation was continuing.

The cover, he said, was not likely to have posed any danger to people, who wear leather or rubber shoes.

''The fact that the horse was wearing metal shoes made a tremendous difference,'' he said.

The service box cover, a 3-by-5-foot rectangle made of three steel sections, had been removed by Con Ed workers last night, revealing a wet, smoldering tangle of cables, some patched with frayed insulation.

The horse's owner, John Michnej, arrived at the scene to find the dapple-gray horse he had owned for four years lying on the ground, covered with a blue blanket and a yellow tarpaulin. He had bought Jackie in Pennsylvania Dutch country, he said, where she used to transport the Amish.

''She's only 7, a young horse,'' he said. ''She was strong and healthy. She was very gentle and she liked this job.''

Mr. Michnej said he had never heard of such an accident. Another carriage driver said she worries about potholes, which can break a horse's ankle, but has never feared electrocution.

Kevin Beisler, 27, a publicity manager, saw the horse fall.

''It's the most disturbing thing I've seen in a long time,'' he said. ''I don't think it's right that these horses are subjected to the elements of the city, from the heat of the summer to the traffic to something random like this.''

The horse stepped on the service box about 6:50 P.M.

An Emergency Services vehicle towed the horse's corpse about 100 feet from the service box cover. The body lay there while a crowd gathered and investigators tried to determine exactly how she had died.

Ordinarily, after a long day's work, Jackie would have returned to the Shamrock Stables, at Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and East 61st Street, where she was housed.

Coalition To Ban
Horse-Drawn Carriages

A Committee of the Coalition For New York City Animals, Inc.

The Coalition for
NYC Animals, Inc.

P.O. Box 20247
Park West Station
New York, NY 10025


To honor
Bobby II Freedom
previously known as Billy
ID# 2873 rescued by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and Equine Advocates on June 25, 2010 from the New Holland auctions.

In memory of
Lilly Rose O'Reilly
previously known
as Dada ID# 2711
R.I.P.August, 2007