Riders recount collision that killed 2 horses 

De Vivo with Norma Jean. Courtesy of Marcela De Vivo.
De Vivo with Norma Jean. Courtesy of Marcela De Vivo.

What started out as an early-evening trail ride on horseback ended tragically for Marcela De Vivo and her daughter Isabelle Andrew, 14, who are both recovering from the collision on Monday in Sand Canyon that killed both of their horses. 

According to De Vivo, she was out with a group of six total, including her daughter, on the Sand Canyon horse trails. De Vivo would often ride on the trail two to three times a week, on her horse named Norma Jean, along with Andrew on her horse, named Husband. 

“We left in the early evening, right about 7:15 p.m. to avoid the heat because the horses get overheated pretty easily — that’s why we were out a little bit later than usual. We had to cross to get to Iron Canyon. I started crossing, and I’m always the first to cross so I’m kind of on the lookout, and I saw a car in the distance, but he was really far, way down. It was like a tiny dot,” De Vivo said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. 

The group began to cross, but according to De Vivo, the horses were slow to cross as the car approached.  

“I moved over to the other side of the street to get out of its way, but then I looked back and two other girls were still on the street. I came back out to the middle, waving and saying, ‘Stop, stop, stop,’ trying to make as much movement as possible,” De Vivo said. “[The car] didn’t stop, and when I realized I’m getting hit, I turned the horse to the side so that there was more distance, and she would stop him with not just her front, but to the side.” 

The driver did not swerve or stop, resulting in a head-on collision, De Vivo said, adding that she flew off her horse, sustaining a compound fracture.  

“I flew off the horse and the impact got me on the knee, so when I landed my bone was sticking out and it was a compound fracture, so I couldn’t get up. The car was low, and swept up [my horse] behind the car. The car kept going and then hit my daughter’s horse,” De Vivo said. “He was very tall, so the car only got his legs and fractured both of his front legs.” 

The car stopped after hitting the second horse, she said. According to De Vivo, no one other than the group was around, so a member of the group, which consisted of Andrew’s friends visiting from Georgia and De Vivo’s youth pastor’s daughter and her friend, called 911. 

Andrew with Husband. Courtesy of Marcela De Vivo.

“Some of the pedestrians started coming, and that’s when I heard a lot of commotion. One of the girls who was with us saw the guy who hit us start running away, [and told him] he had to stay. I was screaming because the paramedics were trying to move the knee, and it was very painful. I hadn’t seen the dead horses, and when I looked over and saw them, I just went hysterical,” De Vivo said.  

De Vivo was able to call the veterinarian right away, and the vet came out and had to put her daughter’s horse down.  

“He had his two front legs crushed and destroyed. He wouldn’t be able to walk or move, so the vet had to put him down,” De Vivo said.  

Traffic investigators from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, who have not yet announced whether the driver of the gray Nissan will face any potential criminal charges, could not be reached late Wednesday afternoon. 

De Vivo said her kneecap was shattered and an initial surgery to restore it was not successful.  

“Yesterday, the orthopedic surgery where they tried to restore it, I think in the end they couldn’t, and he just said he took the kneecap out. Tomorrow, I have to have another surgery where they’re going to see what he can do with the tendons, and when I landed, I think I lost as much skin as the size of my hand,” De Vivo said. “I’m going to need a skin graft so they can cover it, because now you can see all the muscles, ligaments and tendons.” 

Andrew is recovering from a sprained ankle and whiplash, not being able to turn her neck. 

“I’m OK — I only sustained minor injuries, so I’m mostly fine,” Andrew said. “My mom and the horses sustained most of it. I want people to know that these horses didn’t deserve what happened to them. I’ve seen some people saying that it might’ve been the horses’ fault, but there’s nothing we could have done.” 

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