Putting the Beamer Before the Horse


On the evening of Dec. 23, a family piled into one of JoAnne Graf’s carriages in downtown Seattle to enjoy a holiday ride. A little before 6:30 p.m., as the horse made a left turn onto Pike from 1st Avenue, they were severely clipped on the right by a man driving a 1999 BMW 328. According to a police report, the Beamer immediately fled the scene.

No one was hurt and the carriage driver managed to get a license plate number. The number led the cops to a name and address in Arlington, it was added to the police report, which includes a stick-figure drawing of a horse--and that was the end of it from the law enforcement side.

Graf says she’s repeatedly tried to make contact with the man who hit her carriage, but has received no response. Her insurance company is also getting the brush off and the police refuse to get involved. She says in an e-mail that when her insurance company contacted police about the incident, they were informed that no charges would be filed as there were no injuries. That’s complicating matters in getting repairs covered leaving the carriage out of commission since the accident.

Under Washington state law, a driver must stay on the scene of an accident if there is any property damage--equestrian or otherwise. Failing to do so is a gross misdemeanor.

SPD hasn’t responded to a request for comment on the situation, but Graf sees it as a fundamental bias against the antiquated downtown transit service she provides during the holidays. “I feel like I’m being treated like a second class citizen because it’s carriage and not a car,” she says.

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