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Belgian mare euthanized after pickup-buggy crash

A Belgian draft horse had to be euthanized last week, following a late-evening collision between a Ford pickup and a two-wheeled buggy being pulled by a two-horse team.

Jeffrey Hellendrung, 44, of Baldwin, was westbound on 80th Street near 230th Avenue in the Town of Baldwin at about 9 p.m. on May 5 when he crested a knoll and suddenly came upon the buggy. Its only lighting was a lantern with a red light, which was being held by the cart’s operator, 27-year-old Sam Miller, also of Baldwin.

Hellendrung swerved his 2002 Ford F150 pickup to avoid striking the wagon but instead struck one of the two horses. Meanwhile, Miller leapt from the buggy into a nearby ditch just before or as the collision occurred, according to Capt. Jeff Klatt of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department.

One horse was seriously injured, and the decision was made by the buggy operator to have one of two responding deputies dispatch the animal with his or her service weapon, Klatt said.

The dead horse — a mare with an estimated weight over 1,000 pounds — the damaged buggy and pickup were all removed by Day & Night Towing of Baldwin.

Tow service owner Glen Meyer said Miller told him he’d just taken the mare to another farm where it appeared to have been successfully bred and was returning to his family’s farm when the crash occurred.

A Baldwin police officer assisted deputies by responding to the scene to check for injuries when the call was first received.

Sgt. Steve Tape with Wisconsin State Patrol said lighting standards for non-motorized conveyances such as buggies require each to have a white light, visible for at least 500 feet to the front of the wagon and two red lamps on the rear, visible for presumably the same distance and positioned in such a way to indicate the width of the buggy.

The absence of proper lighting on Miller’s buggy was noted on the report as having been a contributing factor in the crash.

Steve Dzubay

Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer from 1995-2016. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.