[UPDATE:] Two injured when horse-drawn stagecoach hit vehicles at Lost Dutchman Days rodeo grounds

(Photo courtesy of Superstition Fire and Medical District)

(Photo courtesy of Superstition Fire and Medical District)

[Update: The stagecoach accident occurred at approximately 1:40 p.m. Feb. 24, Krysta Paffrath, a volunteer with Superstition Mountain Promotional Corp., said in a Feb. 26 press release. “As the Wells Fargo stage was being presented in the arena with dignitaries and representatives of Wells Fargo, the stage horses did not respond to the driver and ran away with the historic stage in tow. The stage made contact with the entrance gate, shearing it off, and the stage proceeded through the rodeo contestant area and towards Lost Dutchman (Boulevard) through the parking lot. The stage came in contact with vehicles, coming to a stop when the right front wheel of the stage lodged in the back tire area of a full-size parked pickup. The collision caused three of the four occupants on the stage to be ejected. The team of horses (was) not injured in the accident. As of today, Feb. 26, one person remains in the hospital. Rodeo Chairman Denny Walter, Apache Junction, received a substantial head injury. He is currently in the trauma unit ICU of Banner Desert Hospital. He is awake and alert following the instructions of his team of doctors as they dictate his path of care. Others injured in the accident have no comment as of the date/time of this release.”]

Two people were critically injured Saturday, Feb. 24, when a horse-drawn stagecoach hit several vehicles at the Lost Dutchman Days rodeo, 1590 E. Lost Dutchman Blvd., officials said.

The injured people were taken to a local hospital in serious condition by Superstition Fire and Medical District ambulances. The horses were walked from the scene to be evaluated by the owners, according to a Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/sfmd.az.gov/.

Denny Walter

Denny Walter, chairman of the volunteer Lost Dutchman Days committee, is one of the people injured, according to a Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/LostDutchmanDays. Mr. Walter is also a member of the Superstition Mountain Promotional Corp. and Elks Lodge No. 2349 in Apache Junction.

“Everyone involved with the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo would like to express our gratitude for the prayers and concern extended. During the afternoon performance today, Wells Fargo stage coach had a run-away out of the arena. The resulting accident significantly injured the rodeo chairman riding shotgun. Others in and on the stage have been treated and soon to be released. This event is by the community and for our community to honor the heritage of the West as we know it. In the 54-year history of the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo, we have never experienced such an occurrence and hope you will join us with prayer for healing for those dramatically affected. Thank you,” according to the Facebook post on Feb. 24.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Rodeo Chairman Denny as he remains in ICU after the first of many surgeries to come. This morning he is alert and resting after removal of breathing tube. He, his family, and his SMPC Family would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of help and support. There were many heroes who stepped up yesterday without a second thought of doubt. He would like everyone to know he is on road to recovery and awaiting full highlights from today’s action packed rodeo and festival,” according to a Feb. 25 post at https://www.facebook.com/LostDutchmanDays.

The fire district was established in 1955 under what is now Arizona Revised Statutes 48-261. It was formed by property owners and registered voters who petitioned the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to create a special taxing district to provide fire protection services. The fire district encompasses 62 square miles, according to http://sfmd.az.gov/the-district. It provides fire suppression, fire prevention, wildland protection, advanced life support, rescue, extrication and medical transportation services out of five fire stations: Fire Station 261, 1135 W Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction; Fire Station 262, 3955 E. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction; Fire Station 263, 1645 S. Idaho Road in Apache Junction; Fire Station 264, 7557 E. U.S. Highway 60 in Gold Canyon; and Fire Station 265, 9294 E. Don Donnelly Trail in Gold Canyon.

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