One of the beloved wild horses that roam North Carolina's Outer Banks was run over and killed Saturday, and her mate responded by standing watch over the body all night, reports the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
It happened on a beach north of Corolla and involved a four-wheel-drive vehicle, the fund reported.
"She died instantly and her stallion stayed over her body all night even after she was covered with a tarp," said a statement posted Sunday by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. "There are no words to describe the heartbreak and frustration we are feeling...What a senseless loss."
The mare was buried Sunday morning, the fund reported in a Facebook post.
The identity of the person who was driving the vehicle was not released. However, the Outer Banks Voice reported it was someone from Virginia Beach.
It is the first time since 2012 that one of the island's horses has been killed in a vehicle-related accident, reported The Outer Banks Voice.
Investigators with the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office ruled the incident an accident and no charges will be filed, according to a June 11 story posted in the Outer Banks Voice. The driver told investigators it was foggy when the horse ran into the path of the vehicle, the newspaper reported.
Four-wheel-drive vehicles are welcomed in some areas of Currituck's beaches, but the public is required by law to stay 50 feet away from the wild horses, according to VisitCurrituck.com.
"Please, please, please pay attention when you are driving on the beach at night," said the Corolla Wild Horse Fund in its Facebook post. "Slow down and expect that a horse could be on the beach or running over the dunes at any given moment."
The feral herd, which numbers about 100, is thought to be descended from Spanish Mustangs brought to the North Carolina coast by explorers four centuries ago, according to VisitCurrituck.com.
Traffic deaths involving the animals were common between 1985 and 1996, when 21 died, reported the Outer Banks Voice. Protective measures were then put in place to keep the horses off major roads, the newspaper reported.