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8 hospitalized in horse riding accident: Young boy airlifted to Bismarck with injuries

MEDORA — Eight minors were hospitalized Monday afternoon after being bucked from their horses during a trail ride near the Medora riding stables.

One boy suffered a broken nose, a contusion and knee injuries because of the accident. He was airlifted to Bismarck to receive medical care. Others came away with bumps and bruises, and were taken by Billings County Ambulance Service responders to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson.

In the aftermath of the accident, some parents are asking why the children were not wearing helmets when the horses lost control.

A group of 14 people were on the ride, including 13 minors and one supervising adult from a local youth group. Two Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation guides led the group.

At one point, one of the horses saw something and got spooked, Billings County Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Rummel said.

After that, other horses became fearful as well, bucking off their riders.

“It sounds like it was a chain reaction,” he said.

Neither guides nor riders were able to identify what scared the horses, Rummel said.

Diana Nowacki, whose nephew was injured, said she heard that morning groups were wearing helmets during their rides, but the afternoon group was not.

“If safety was their first priority, then why were the kids not wearing helmets?” Nowacki said.

Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation marketing director Justin Fisk said horseback trail riders are always given the option to wear helmets before rides begin.

The foundation is investigating the accident, including why helmets were not worn, Fisk said.

The Roosevelt foundation is staying in touch with those who were taken to the hospital, and will be involved the insurance claims process, he said.

Brandi Dauksavage Procopio’s son Jacob, who is in elementary school, was the only one to be airlifted from the accident scene. Procopio, of Dickinson, said her son is also having trouble seeing because of swelling around his eyes.

She said she will be asking the foundation to help with medical costs, along with her insurance company. She is not considering legal action against those in charge of trail riding.

“We’re not going to be able to afford all of this stuff,” Procopio said.

Most of the children involved in the accident are worried about Jacob’s health, Procopio said.

The Medora public non-profit organization supervises about 5,000 trail riders every year, but rarely do accidents of this size occur, Fisk said.

“We’re adamant about investigating this and we want to make sure that every one of our riders are as safe as they can be,” Fisk said.