Woman Airlifted Off Hilly Trail after Being Thrown from Horse

Incident took place Sunday afternoon on Big Rock Ridge; woman believed to have fractured pelvis and ribs.

A woman on a visit from St. Louis was thrown from a horse in the hills overlooking Novato on Sunday and needed helicopter assistance before getting treatment for hip and rib injuries, a source from the Novato Fire District said.

The mid-afternoon incident took place on the Ship’s Mast Trail on Big Rock Ridge on the west side of Novato, according to Novato Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Veliquette. Two women left the Willow Tree Stables and were about two miles out when one woman fell off her mount, leaving them in a tough position to receive help, he said.

Personnel from Novato Fire and the Marin County Sheriff’s Department assessed the situation from the junction of Vineyard Road and Rebelo Lane, then sent up sheriff’s all-terrain vehicles and two four-wheel-drive trucks from Novato Fire, Veliquette said.

“The condition of the fire roads right now made it extremely difficult to make access,” he said. “Those trails are shaded all the time at this time of year, so they stay very wet and slippery.”

 The injured woman, estimated to be in her 60s according to Veliquette, appeared to have several fractured ribs and a broken pelvis. A helicopter from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department was called in, and first-responders helped the woman get into the chopper. It landed at San Marin High School and paramedics took the woman to Novato Community Hospital, Veliquette said.

“We called (the helicopter) because there wasn’t going to be a comfortable method to get her down the hill,” he said.

The second rider recovered the injured woman’s horse, which had been spooked by the helicopter and other vehicles. Veliquette said someone from Willow Tree Stables came up to the incident site to help guide everyone back down.

Veliquette said he wasn’t sure what initially caused the woman to fall off the horse.


Beverly Carrino November 29, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Knowing the Novato Fire Protection District as I know them from Leadership Novato. This lady was in really good hands. I cannot say enough good things about Novato's Fire Protection District.
Brent Ainsworth November 29, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Thank you, Mike Giannini of Marin County Fire, for sharing that YouTube clip.


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