A 4-year-old mare, a former race horse, broke free from a nearby Amish farm.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Roger DeCarbo can add horse wrangler to his list of skills.
The Lawrence County commissioner, a funeral home director by trade, was traveling south on Pa. Route 60 Wednesday night when he saw a wayward horse galloping down the highway.
DeCarbo slowed his GMC Yukon behind the horse and put on his flashers, hoping to keep other traffic from hitting the animal. Other cars were passing in the left lane and the road berm at about 60 mph, he said. DeCarbo feared the horse would cause a car crash.
Eventually the horse ended up on DeCarbo's left and he grabbed the reins, but the horse wouldn't stop.
His arm became caught and he couldn't let go.
DeCarbo, now tangled in the reins, kept up with the horse as they traveled about 25 mph down the road.
DeCarbo said he used his cellular telephone to call 911 for help. Lawrence County Emergency Management officials recorded his call at 7:29 p.m.
Police cars from the Pennsylvania State Police, Neshannock, Pulaski and New Wilmington police eventually appeared behind him to keep other cars from passing.
Highway traffic slowed to a snail's pace as police worked to stop the horse and free DeCarbo.
"I'm talking to this horse the whole time and I said `Come on, why don't you stop.' It kept looking at me and going phewwwww, so I knew it heard me," he said.
At one point Neshannock Police Officer Al DeCarbo, no relation to the commissioner, pulled ahead and got out of his car with a rope.
"He was swinging it in the air like a lasso, but he couldn't catch the horse," the county commissioner said.
A Pennsylvania State Police car also pulled in front of the horse in an attempt to stop it, but that didn't slow down the mare either.
Eventually another car pulled ahead, and an Amish man jumped out and waved his hat in a circle, stopping the horse. A stunned DeCarbo, still attached to the horse's reins, had to slam on the car brakes.
DeCarbo later learned the horse broke free from an Amish farm just off the Pulaski exit of Route 60.
Jake Mast, 22, said he bought the mare the previous night and was putting on its strap when it ran from his farm on Old Pulaski Road.
He said the 4-year-old mare, which is still unnamed, is a retired race horse from Maine.
The horse apparently ran across Old Pulaski Road and crashed through a fence near Pa. Route 60 before DeCarbo spotted it. Mast said they found two of the horse's shoes hanging from the fence.
Mast's father-in-law Levi Lee said they were happy to have the horse back home.
"Everybody was a nervous wreck here. Somebody could have gotten killed," he said.
DeCarbo and the mare traveled about four miles before stopping just past the Mitchell Road exit.
Police told DeCarbo they saw him being pulled from his sport utility vehicle as he and the horse swerved over both lanes of the highway.
"One of them told me I was out so far he could see my belt," DeCarbo said.
Fellow Lawrence County commissioners Ed Fosnaught and Brian Burick, who were traveling home from the West Central Job Partnership meeting in West Middlesex they had attended with DeCarbo, saw the commotion.
"I saw a guy with a white shirt and tie with the horse, but I didn't know it was Roger," Fosnaught said.
Burick said he noticed the Amish man, the horse and an ambulance, but not DeCarbo as he sped past.
DeCarbo, who suffered only a sore back, refused treatment, but he persuaded paramedics from Medivac Ambulance to bandage the horse's bleeding legs.
"They said, 'how do we bill this?' I said, `Don't bill me. I don't know the horse,'" DeCarbo quipped.