Asleep Horse Carriage Driver Puts Tourists at Risk--NYPD Intervenes

On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, four frightened female tourists from England, Esther Miles, Debbie Sage, Christine Hogbin and Corrine Hunisette, reported to NYLCASS that they were put in harm’s way after a horse carriage driver fell asleep and kept nodding off, during much of a 45-minute carriage ride that cost them $100 — an inflated price, to add insult to injury. 

According to the tourists, the driver was asleep, and not holding the horse reins while he was supposed to be guiding the horse both through Central Park and in traffic outside the park. 

The four women expected a midday guided tour of Central Park and the sites, but their driver was silent and offered no commentary. After 25 minutes, a police car stopped the carriage inside the park and questioned the driver about the distressing physical state he was in, and reprimanded him for not holding the horse reins. 

During the police intervention the tourists said they came to the horrific realization that their driver had been asleep or nodding off for at least part of their ride.

Esther Miles said that after he was stopped by police he "had to get off the carriage" to retrieve the reins--he had not been holding them.. The police told the driver he appeared unwell and tired and needed to go home and that the four women should get off the carriage but the driver insisted he was “fine,” and proceeded to finish their ride.  

The tourists continued on the ride because one of the women would not have been able to walk all the way back from where they were, and the driver had repeatedly told police he was well enough to continue the ride to drop them off. They ended up regretting that decision. Their ride lasted another 15 minutes and according to the women, the driver continued falling asleep, while the alarmed women repeatedly asked him if he was ok. 

Esther Miles explained that the horse was operating essentially on his own and stated, “when we came out of the park it was the horse that brought us, in all this traffic, where we were supposed to stop.” Debbie Sage, another passenger, said in a written statement that, “clearly the driver was falling asleep. We asked him several times if everything was ok and he clearly looked like he was nodding off to sleep again. He certainly wasn’t in control and the horse obviously knew its way back to the point where we started our journey.” 


Statement from Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS
“This is an outrage. The shocking events reported to us yesterday are are yet another example of the severe dangers posed by horse carriage rides to the Midtown and Central Park area. The driver created a serious safety risk yesterday when he reportedly fell asleep while driving the carriage and not holding the reins.

Had the NYPD officer not intervened to ensure the riders’ and horse’s safety, we shudder to imagine the tragedies that may have occurred. Who is this driver who apparently put many lives at risk yesterday and why was he driving the carriage in the state reported to us by the carriage passengers?  How often has he worked like this? Will this driver be back working on the streets again today?

We call for an investigation into why this driver was permitted to put so many individuals at risk and what will be done to prevent this from occurring again.”

We call for an investigation into why this driver was permitted to put so many individuals at risk and what will be done to prevent this from occurring again.”

These disturbing events come just two weeks after a carriage horse had collapsed while pulling a carriage in Central Park.

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