NORTH SYDNEY — Cape Breton’s horse racing community is still in shock following a horrifying crash that injured three drivers and three horses during a race Nov. 12 at Northside Downs in North Sydney.
Track treasurer Harold LeBlanc said the incident has stunned people involved in the close-knit local harness racing scene. However, he said, there is a sense of relief in that, while the drivers suffered serious injuries, it could have been worse.
“When you look at the video you know it could have been worse, but they all seem to be on the mend,” said LeBlanc.
“They’re saying they can’t wait for springtime to come so they can start racing again — the guys are upbeat and the horses all seem to have come out of it okay, although one is a little scraped up.”
The crash happened in the fourth race of the last card of the season. Track video feeds show that Danny Campbell’s horse, I Am Able, stumbled as it moved up on the leaders and that the sulky, the two-wheeled cart where the driver sits, was hit by another horse charging from behind. The chain reaction also caused a third horse and driver team to crash.
Lingan’s Danny Campbell was sent to hospital with a fractured hip, broken ribs and broken collarbone, while John Willy Beaton, of Coxheath, was taken to Halifax with broken ribs and suspected broken vertebrae in his back. The third driver, Roddy Hurley, of New Waterford, suffered a concussion to go along with a few bumps and bruises.
Campbell’s wife, Betty, said she has no doubt her husband will be back at it as soon as he can.
“He’s pretty beaten up, he has three fractures in his hip, so he finds it hard to get out of bed and get mobile,” she said. “But, he’s very tough and he’s get through this.”
In the meantime, their horse is under the care of local veterinarian Dr. Ruth Parker. The other horses that were involved in the accident were the Beaton-driven Fleetwood Cam and Shiny Mach, driven by Hurley.
It’s expected that Campbell will soon be released from hospital, although his recovery is expected to take at least six weeks. Beaton remains in hospital in Halifax, while Hurley, who suffered concussion, has been released from hospital and is now resting at home.
Meanwhile, LeBlanc said that once the dust settles, the horse racing community will look at organizing a fundraiser for the injured drivers.