Funeral drama 'like scene from horror'

A HEARSE driver today apologised to the family of a dead woman after the horse-drawn carriage containing her coffin overturned in a freak accident.

Neil Puffett

A HEARSE driver today apologised to the family of a dead woman after the horse drawn carriage containing her coffin overturned in a freak accident.

In what a grieving relative described as a scene from a horror movie the carriage carrying the coffin of 79-year-old Caroline Thompson of Antrim Road, Ipswich was upturned after it hit a bollard on the way to her funeral at Bramford church.

Three people were injured in the accident which saw two of the horses escape, only to be found 15 minutes later about half a mile away in Lotus Close.

Today hearse driver Mike Daniel of Hollesley based Horse Drawn Promotions which carried out the procession said it had been a series of unfortunate incidents which led to the accident.

He said: “It was very scary. The horses are fine and we are all OK, but I feel very sorry for the family.

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“It was rather unpleasant for them, but they were very understanding and everyone was very kind and helpful.”

The relative who did not want to be named said mourners were horrified at the nightmare scenario which happened in Henniker Road at around 11am yesterday.

The funeral was delayed by around an hour following the drama.

The relative said: “It was like something out of a horror movie.

“It was very traumatic and upsetting.

“Fortunately the family were around the corner of the road so couldn't see what was happening.

“There were some workmen nearby who were really great and put barriers up in the road to stop traffic before the police arrived.”

One Henniker Road resident, who did not want to be named, said he was shocked on seeing the aftermath.

He said: “It looked really terrible, real carnage.

“There were quite a few people around and the coffin had come out of the carriage.

“My wife was shaking, she was really upset.”

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said two vehicles were damaged when the carriage overturned and a further two vehicles suffered minor damage when the horses ran off.

She said the coffin was swiftly moved into a hearse in the procession. Parts of Henniker Road and Adair Road were closed until 12.45pm as a result of the accident.

HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED:-

Driver Mike Daniel, 57, said he was travelling with his son, Ed, and another groom, near Bramford Road, when a vehicle in front of him pulled up suddenly, forcing him to veer round and miss his turn.

He then had to take a series of narrow roads to get back on the right route and it was while going along Henniker Road that he said he clipped a metal bollard.

The hearse overturned, smashing the glass and causing injuries to the men working onboard.

Contrary to eye-witness reports, Mr Daniel said his horses were not spooked and simply trotted off after becoming detached from the carriage.

Ed Daniel, 20, was taken to Ipswich Hospital, where he is recovering from a bruised hip and broken nose, while the other two men escaped with cuts and bruises.

Mr Daniel, the owner of Hollesley-based Horse Drawn Promotions, which carried out the procession, said: “I have been doing horse-drawn funerals for 28 years and this is the first time we have had a problem.

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