Hearse chases horses down A12

TWO runaway horses which miraculously avoided injury after bolting from a funeral cortege and had to be chased down the A12 by a hearse are today back in their stables recovering from their ordeal.

TWO runaway horses which miraculously avoided injury after bolting from a funeral cortege and had to be chased down the A12 by a hearse are today back in their stables recovering from their ordeal.

The black horses were recaptured after leading their owners on a dash down the southbound carriageway of the road yesterday.

They had bolted from a car park near the A12 and A14 Copdock interchange while being harnessed and prepared to lead the funeral procession for 75-year-old Charles Andrews from Sproughton.

The horses, complete with decorative plumes, collided with two vehicles and brought traffic to a standstill during their dramatic dash.

Police were sent to the area to alert motorists of the danger and radio stations broadcast emergency warnings to drivers.

The horses broke free at 1pm as they were being prepared to lead the procession.

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A spokeswoman for the Ipswich and Norwich Co-op Funeral Service, which had organised the funeral, said fortunately the coffin was not loaded into the horse-drawn hearse when the animals got spooked.

She said: “The key thing is the coffin wasn't loaded and none of the family were involved at that stage. It was just as they were preparing for the funeral.”

As they made their escape from the church car park at least one of the horses collided with a hearse which was due to follow them in the cortege.

The extent of the damage to that and to the other vehicle which was caught up in the drama was not initially clear but the horses escaped injury.

Suffolk Police said motorists had reported seeing the horses on the road being pursued by a funeral car. At one stage it is believed the animals were stood in the middle of the carriageway.

They were recaptured by their owners after about 10 minutes and traffic was held at a standstill near the Tesco supermarket at Copdock while they were taken to safety.

A worker for Pegasus Horses and Carriages at Rollesby in Norfolk, which owns the horses, said: “They're fine. We're very relieved.

“They were harnessed ready to go and then something spooked them. It just happened out of the blue.”

Chris Bacon, funeral department manager for the Co-op Funeral Service, said: “Our first concern was no one was injured and the horses were safe.

“I believe there has been some damage both to the horse drawn hearse and the funeral vehicle.

“We're very, very pleased that everybody is safe and largely unharmed.”

It was thought a gust of wind could have been what spooked the horses. They were not used in the funeral at Ipswich Crematorium, which was delayed but went ahead despite the drama.

Mr Bacon said: “They were too unsettled and we just used motor vehicles from that point on.”

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