A North Idaho woman was seriously injured on Tuesday evening when a speeding pickup truck struck the horse she was riding north of Hayden. The driver fled the scene.
Lauren Johnson, 20, was in fair condition Wednesday in the intensive care unit at Kootenai Medical Center following the 8:40 p.m. hit-and-run incident.
Johnson and Rebecca Lobato, 21, were riding their horses along the side of Garwood Road between Rimrock Road and U.S. Highway 95 when they heard the sound of the speeding truck, Lobato said.
Lobato said she saw Johnson’s horse do a somersault after being knocked off its hooves from the rear. “I looked and saw Lauren lying on the road,” her friend said.
She said she feared Johnson was dead until Johnson regained consciousness, groaned and tried to get up. Lobato said she only caught a glimpse of the truck, which was a dark color.
A passing motorist stopped and called for help, and Johnson was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she was recovering from a fractured skull and collarbone and a bruise on the brain.
“Thank God she wasn’t using a saddle,” Lobato said. “It would have been worse.” Were she not riding bareback, Johnson could have become stuck in the stirrups and ended up under the horse.
The horse, Blondie, a buttermilk buckskin mare about 12 years old, suffered multiple bruises and lacerations, according to Gena Loper, owner of Post Falls Equestrian Center, where Johnson works. Loper said Blondie, who is standing, is being monitored for internal injuries and spinal damage.
The incident is under investigation by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. Anyone with information about the driver or the truck, which is likely to have body damage on its passenger side, is asked to call (208) 446-1300.
Loper said a fund has been set up to help with Johnson’s medical expenses. Contributions may be made at any Washington Trust Bank.