Students and riders in the small, close-knit horse riding community of Southwest Ranches grieved Friday over the apparently accidental death of a 16-year-old high school girl and the horse she was riding.
Brownie, an 18-year-old quarter horse, and Cypress Bay High School student Lucia Rodrigo were found dead on a horse trail Thursday afternoon not far from Falcon Cove Middle School.
Police said it appeared Brownie suffered a stroke or some other catastrophic malady near Southwest 188th Avenue and Griffin Road, and Lucia was either thrown from the large equine or was crushed by its weight. Autopsies of both Lucia and Brownie were planned.
“There’s no evidence at this time it’s anything more than a tragic accident,” Davie police Sgt. Ed Smith said Friday morning.
Smith said police received a call about a person down at 4:03 p.m., on an overcast but otherwise calm afternoon. When officers arrived, they found Brownie down and Lucia a few feet away near a dirt path on the north side of Griffin Road and along the parallel Canal.
“She was a relatively experienced rider,” Smith said.
Paramedics declared Lucia dead at the scene. A crisis team was sent Friday morning to Cypress Bay High to provide counseling to students. Smith said Lucia’s father was out of town and on his way back home Friday.
Witnesses said they saw Brownie galloping down the small dirt path that more often than not is used by riders trotting leisurely.
“Literally, like a racehorse, she was flying. And I though that was extremely odd because we see people on trail rides here all the time,” Vicky Geddis told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 Thursday as she waited to pick up her child at Falcon Cove Middle School.
“She literally was on the horse sprinting right past me.”
Terri Shure, the sister of the woman who owns Brownie, told the Sun Sentinel that Lucia had been riding horses for at least eight years.
“She knows how to ride very, very well,” said Shure.
Thursday’s incident, at the start of rush hour and as nearby schools were still letting children out, attracted a crowd of onlookers. Brownie’s body was covered by a tarp as paramedics worked on Lucia.
Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson arrived at the scene Thursday night, and called the deaths “traumatic and tragic.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends,” he said.
Southwest Ranches, in West Broward, is a popular town known for its horse ranches, stables and riding areas. Brownie, though, isn’t believed to belong to any of those stables. It also wasn’t clear Friday whether Lucia worked at one.
Davie police said the horse was privately owned by a woman named Wendy Morrell. Morrell could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.