KNIGHTSEN, Calif. - A suspected drunk driver in East Contra Costa County was arrested in a fatal Friday night crash.
Around 9:30 p.m. the alleged intoxicated driver struck and killed a horse, and injured the rider along Delta Road in Knightsen.
"The vehicle was traveling eastbound on Delta road with a rider on the horse in front of him. The vehicle struck the horse which then ejected the rider off onto the shoulder, as well as killing the horse," said Sgt. John Koven with the CHP.
In home surveillance video, the horse and rider are just off-camera to the right, with two cars headed toward them. Brake lights illuminate, and a couple of seconds later the impact is heard as a car headed in the opposite direction hits the horse and rider.
"The rider of the horse has major injuries," said Battalion Chief Craig Auzenne with East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.
Due to distance, the unidentified rider was taken to John Muir Medical Center by helicopter rather than by ambulance.
Despite the heavy damage sustained to the right front of the vehicle, the unidentified driver managed to walk away, but in handcuffs, after being arrested for suspicion of DUI.
The CHP said it’s unknown at this time whether their investigation will also require a toxicology test from the horseback rider.
"We have had several incidences with horses and vehicles out here," said Auzenne. "This is a country road, they're narrow. It's dark here at night,"
Knighten resident Davie Bushong said the last horse and vehicle crash he recalled happened about two years ago, on Delta Road, next door. He said he wasn’t surprised to see it happen again Friday night, right across the street.
Bushong said many people drive too fast and that he routinely finds plenty of evidence of drinking.
"We try to keep the road front as clean as we can, but I’m always finding beer bottles, vodka bottles, whiskey bottles, up and down the whole street," said Bushong.
Many roads in the area are narrow with little to no shoulder, and with no streetlights, drivers have only their headlights to rely on.
Bushong gave the same advice cited by first-responders.
"If you’re going to be out after dark with an animal, some type of reflective, something, light, something to give everybody the benefit of the doubt to try to see you before anything like this happens."