Three Percheron horses who have appeared in dozens of parades in the Finger Lakes area were killed about 2 a.m. Aug. 28 when they were struck by a Sport Utility Vehicle on State Route 14 in the town of Starkey.
Yates County Sheriff's Deputies report that a northbound Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Christopher Chalfin, 37, of Effort Pa. did not see the horses, which were black, standing in the road after getting out of their fenced pasture. The horses were owned by Freedom Village, according to the deputies.
Fletcher Brothers of Freedom Village says Jim, who pulled the flag-draped caisson, Jeff, who was the riderless horse, and Bill, who sometimes appeared in parades, were all killed instantly in the collision.
"They were like family pets. They had a fabulous parade in Trumansburg Saturday. They were the stars of the show." said Brothers. Jim and Jeff were a matched pair who also could be seen pulling a large wagon carrying the Freedom Village singers at some events, and sleighs across the snow in winter.
"The kids just loved them. They were gentle giants," he said.
The horses will be memorialized on the Freedom Village property with a memorial plaque, according to Brothers.
Chalfin was treated for a minor head injury at the scene by Dundee Ambulance volunteers. His passenger, Sarah C. Navin, 29, of Harveys Lake, Pa. was also checked over at the scene.
Dundee Fire Department assisted the deputies at the scene.