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By Elizabeth LeSure Newsday Associated Press, January 2, 2006

NEW YORK -- The driver of a horse-drawn carriage was thrown into the street Monday night when the animal suddenly bolted, galloped for blocks and then crashed into a station wagon in midtown Manhattan, witnesses said.

"It was horrifying," said Robyn Hussa, who saw the horse racing through traffic. "It was like a nightmare."

The horse, whose carriage had no passengers, smashed into the station wagon at 50th Street and Ninth Avenue around 9:30 p.m., fire department Chief Jim Hodgens said. Two men in the station wagon were injured, he said.

The street was soaked in blood by the time the carriage driver was taken away in an ambulance, witnesses said.

"He wasn't moving at all, and there was blood all over the place," said Philip Emran, who had been eating dinner at a restaurant on the corner.

He said the horse was wrapped around the station wagon, its rear legs on top of it and its head on the ground. The windshield of the car was smashed, and the four-wheel carriage was mangled.

The horse, which remarkably appeared to escape injury, later stood at the scene before being driven away while bucking and kicking in a police wagon.

Authorities at the scene didn't immediately know the conditions of the injured or the origin of the horse and carriage, which had heart-shaped cutouts for windows.

Jasna Tomasevic, visiting from Orlando, Fla., said she was so horrified by what she witnessed through the window while dining at the corner restaurant that she had to change seats.

"This is really not something which I want to see," she said.

Manhattan carriage rides, generally in and around Central Park, are popular with tourists year-round and have been featured in movies and shows such as HBO's "Sex and the City." Carriages line up along Central Park South, about 10 blocks from where Monday's crash occurred, offering 30-minute rides for about $40.

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