A DEVASTATED horse owner has spoken of her horror after her animal was killed in a collision with a van at the weekend.
Laura, a 16-year-old black and white cob, died on Lizard Lane, in South Shields, on Sunday morning, and her 41-year-old female rider is still in hospital.
As police continue their inquiries to establish exactly what happened, local residents are co-ordinating a plan of action make the road safer.
On Saturday, at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields, a public meeting is being held from 6pm to seek the views of horse riders, villagers and others.
The injured rider is in Newcastle’s RVI where she is to undergo a second operation on her ankle.
Laura’s owner, Linda Roberts, has backed calls for the road – which runs from South Shields to Whitburn – to have an entire 20mph speed limit imposed.
The 53-year-old, of Norham Avenue South, South Shields, said: “I was on the scene of the accident within 20 minutes on Sunday, my son-in-law drove me there.
“I’ll never forget the sight that confronted me on that hill. It was horrendous. Laura was dead in the middle of the road. She was a big animal, 15 hands, she must have been hit with real force.
“She had another 10 to 15 years ahead of her.
“Caroline, the horse rider, was lying on the grass verge and there were police everywhere. I can’t tell you how gutted I am.
“Caroline, who must have taken that same route hundreds of times before, is just so lucky to be alive.”
Car dealer and horse rider Nigel Oxman, from Cleadon Village, is helping co-ordinate the community response to the accident.
He has received the backing of Coun Jeff Milburn, Conservative representative for Cleadon and East Boldon, and Coun Tracey Dixon, Labour representative in Whitburn and Marsden.
Mr Oxman also revealed he had narrowly avoided injury when out riding his horse India on the same stretch of road on Sunday afternoon.
He said: “I was on my horse when a van came over the hill, causing my horse to rear up. I had to jump off.
“The driver didn’t stop. He just drove off and beeped his horn as if it was my fault.
“There is going to be a fatality unless something is done. The lady on Sunday was so, so lucky not to be killed.
“We want as many people as possible to sign the petition calling for action on speeding over the next couple of weeks, and we will then have a meeting with the councillors to see where to take things next.
“We will be distributing the petition to riding schools, farms and riding school shops. We want the whole community to get behind this.
“I believe the best way to cut speeds is to have two speed cameras installed there. Speed bumps just don’t stop them, but the risk of a £60 fine will.
“That is probably the way to go, but we will see what people have to say on Saturday.”
Anyone with information about Sunday’s incident is asked to contact police on 101 extension 69191, quoting reference number 483130714, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”