BRENTWOOD — A Nottingham man seriously injured after he was thrown to the ground while driving a horse-drawn wagon is suing Applecrest Farm Orchards, claiming it failed to properly maintain the wagon that broke and spooked the Belgian draft horses.
Gregory Dow filed suit against the popular Hampton Falls apple orchard last week following the wagon accident on Sept. 25, 2011, that injured Dow and Epping horse owner Joan Perkins, who stepped in and tried to stop the runaway horses.
The accident happened at the orchard at 133 Exeter Road while Dow was helping with wagon rides for customers during the orchard’s busy fall season.
Perkins and her husband, Lloyd, who own Ledgewood Belgian Farms in Epping, were hired by Applecrest to provide the horses and operate the wagon rides. However, the suit said the wagons, poles and other equipment used during the rides were owned and provided by Applecrest.
Lloyd and Joan Perkins were driving two horse-drawn wagons when, at some point, Dow was asked to take over one of the wagons for Joan Perkins so she could use the restroom, they told the New Hampshire Union Leader in an interview after the accident.
According to the suit filed in Rockingham County Superior Court, Dow was driving the wagon downhill at a “slow, plodding and cautious pace with approximately 15 to 20 people riding in the back and two horses side by side pulling it when a wooden pole, which had been provided by (Applecrest), between the horses snapped without warning and bit into the ground.”
The suit, filed on Dow’s behalf by Dover attorney Alfred Catalfo III, alleges the wagon, which didn’t have a brake system, rolled forward and collided with the horses. The horses became startled and then bolted, the suit said.
Dow’s team and wagon then “shot down” an incline and crashed into a stone wall, the suit said. Dow was thrown off and suffered serious injuries, including four broken ribs, a punctured lung, severe knee damage, a scalp laceration, contusions and “severe emotional trauma,” the suit said.
The suit accuses Applecrest of failing to maintain the wagons, poles and other equipment in a “safe and reasonable condition.”
The Perkinses attempted to stop the horses and prevent serious injuries.
Lloyd Perkins said in an interview that he jumped off his wagon and onto one of his wife’s horses, but fell off.
After discovering the problem, Joan Perkins ran over and jumped in front of the horses and hollered for them to stop, but one of the horses stepped on her foot and she fell to the ground. The wagon then ran over her. She suffered multiple serious injuries, but survived the accident.
The suit asks the court to award monetary damages “in an amount sufficient to compensate him for his injuries and losses ...”
Representatives from Applecrest could not be reached for comment Tuesday.