By M.C. Kauffman
August 13, 2006
This potentially dangerous incident began when a person using a slingshot loaded with 1/4 inch stainless steel ball bearings began shooting at the horse-drawn trolley at the Totem Heritage Center. Harris said the metal bearings hit the horses causing extreme excitability and slightly injured his right wheel horse, Jack.
Harris said metal bearings were also entering the trolley and he immediately decided to move the tour out of the danger area. A big man at 280 pounds and 6'2", Harris had his hands full as the horses were agitated.
Harris said, "The horses were so excited that it bordered uncontrollable and I sustained a fractured clavicle from the pressure [put] on my shoulder controlling the horses during the remainder of the tour." However, Harris maintained a steady and assuring hand and was able to manage the horses for the remainder of the tour which involved delivering his passengers safely for unboarding.
At the time of the incident, another employee quickly searched the area by following the line of shot. This employee reported he was also shot at with the metal bearing flying over his head.
The Ketchikan Police were contacted and Harris said the police have found an alleged suspect, a minor, as well as the slingshot. Harris said from their employee's report he looked 20. No information was available from the police today regarding the incident.
At the time of the incident 18 locals and 12 tourists were on board the trolley plus the driver and the narrator. Among the passengers were children. One metal bearing was recovered in one of the passenger's shoes said Harris.
No passengers or bystanders were injured. All can be thankful to the trolley driver - Ryan Harris, the hero who saved the day - and for the horse-drawn trolley tours' well-trained horses.
Harris who received the only injury, a fractured clavicle, will be unable to return to work until he recovers. Harris said of the injured horse Jack, he has welts and skin abrasions but these will heal. He added, "Although I expect he [Jack] will be very nervous at the Totem Heritage Center for some time." With the loving care these horses receive and their skilled drivers, it's possible this emotional experience will also soon mend.
A slingshot is considered a weapon and is frequently used in hunting. Harris said he'd heard there was talk of charging the alleged suspect with reckless endangerment. According to Alaska Statutes, "A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person".
Seahorse Ventures has been operating horse-drawn trolley tours in Ketchikan since 1988. These popular horse-drawn trolley tours are owned by Gloria Allen. The tour trolleys are drawn by four majestic Belgian Draft and/or Percheron horses.
If anyone has any information concerning this incident, contact the Ketchikan Police Department at 225-6631.
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