A driver hit a wild horse on an Outer Banks beach Friday night, sending the animal sprinting off in a panic into the darkness.
It happened in the Swan Beach area, between Penny’s Hill and Mile Marker 17, and news of the collision set off a desperate search to find the horse and evaluate its injuries.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund later identified the stallion as a horse named Junior.
“He’s showing no signs of any complications or issues from being struck by the vehicle Friday night,” said a Facebook post.
“He is one lucky horse. The reason this didn’t end much worse is because the driver was only going 10 mph. If they had been traveling the speed limit of 35 mph, this likely would have ended much differently... We will continue to closely monitor the horse.”
The area of the accident is known to be frequented by “mostly bachelor stallions,” according to the post.
The vehicle “sustained significant damage” when it hit the horse at about 9 p.m., according to the post. The horse ran away, forcing Corolla Wild Horse Fund staff to search all day Saturday for a horse that might be limping or bleeding.
“This was truly an accident and speed was not a factor,” said the Corolla Wild Horse fund in a Facebook post. “The driver did the right thing by calling 911 and then waiting on the scene until help arrived. We are so appreciative of that.”
Fund officials also pleaded with beach drivers “to please slow down and use extreme caution when traveling the beach. The horses are incredibly difficult to see in the dark and they do frequent the beach at night.”
The sole mission of the nonprofit Corolla Wild Horse Fund “is to protect and preserve the last remaining herd of Spanish Mustangs on the northern Outer Banks,” according to its Facebook page.
The nearly 100 horses on Corolla are believed descended from colonial stallions brought to the Outer Banks by early explorers in the 1500s, according to the fund’s website.