By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Lewis County officials went silent about the spooked carriage horse that took off running down the midway at the Southwest Washington Fair, injuring five people.
The designated spokesperson about the incident talked with news organizations the day it occurred, offering sparse details.
By early this week, the spokesperson, Lewis County Risk Manager Paulette Young, said nothing more would be said.
“We’re not providing any more information on that, we are no commenting,” Young said Tuesday.
The day before, the three-member Lewis County Board of Commissioners issued a formal statement:
“Because of potential litigation that could arise in the future, and upon advice of counsel, Lewis County will not be making any further comments on this matter,” they wrote. “Our thoughts and well wishes continue to be with those affected by this incident.”
It happened about 2:30 p.m. a week ago Friday.
Young on that afternoon said she knew only that five people were hurt and four of them were hospitalized, after a vendor’s horse with buggy ran through the fairgrounds.
The chief of the fire department whose jurisdiction includes the fairgrounds in between the cities of Centralia and Chehalis said he didn’t know much more. Riverside Fire Authority Chief Mike Kytta referred questions to Young.
We don’t have a whole lot,” Kytta said earlier this week. “With our fairground crew there, we had the whole thing turned around in 18 minutes.”
Kytta said four individuals were put into AMR ambulances and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital. The fifth person went there in a private vehicle, he said.
Although ordinarily Riverside Fire Authority records and shares such basics as the age and sex of accident victims, Kytta said he did not have that information.
“Now we know, from the news, a father and daughter were flown to Harborview with head injuries,” he said earlier this week.
Jake Morgan of Toledo and his daughter Helen were airlifted to the Seattle trauma center. A GoFundMe page posted the following day included words from the mother, Emily Owen, who said they expected a long healing road ahead.
“They have been overwhelmed with prayers and wishes,” the statement read. “Due to the severity of Jake and Helen’s injuries Emily won’t be able to go back to work immediately.
“If you feel moved please join me in donating what you can to offset their cost of living during their stay here in Seattle, and in the time home.”
Now, fellow Toledo resident Brandie Devine is busy organizing assistance for the family.
A benefit spaghetti dinner and auction is planned for Sept. 30 at Toledo High School. It will run from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.
“Emily will move from primary provider to caregiver,” Devine wrote. “As this family heals, let’s do what we can as a community to ‘make life a little easier’. ”
The cost is $5 per child and $7 for adults.
To donate auction items, Devine can be reached at 360-880-7331
To donate food or supplies for the spaghetti feed, please contact Catrina Mathis at 360-703-1716 or Cara Buswell at 206-303-9472 or 360-864-4291.
Also, Devine notes that in the meantime for anyone who would like to contribute money to help family members with fuel costs for their trips to and from the hospital, an account is set up at the Toledo Flying K Gas Mart.
For background, read “Chehalis: Spooked horse injures several fairgoers” from Friday August 19, 2016, here