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Associated Press, Published May 26 2013

Spooked horse crashes wagon, injuring riders in Deadwood

DEADWOOD, S.D. — Four people were injured when a horse-drawn wagon crashed in Deadwood this weekend, marring the opening ceremonies for the Days of ‘76 Museum.

“It’s a helluva way to start a party,” museum board president Jon Mattson told the Rapid City Journal.

The opening gala for the $5.5 million museum that tells the story of the Old West included free wagon rides.

The wagon overturned in the rodeo grounds’ arena after one of the two draft horses pulling it apparently was spooked, said Chelsea Percy, 20.

“I’m not sure exactly what happened. I was sitting in the back seat,” Percy said, nursing a bruised arm and head shortly after the accident. “I’m doing fine. But all of a sudden the horses just started running. Then we crashed.”

Percy was taken to Lead-Deadwood Hospital along with wagon driver Wilbur Newland of Belle Fourche and two other wagon riders, including a 3-year-old boy. Percy and the boy were hospitalized in fair condition Saturday afternoon, while the other two had been treated and released, a hospital spokesman told the newspaper. Hospital employees were unable to provide an update on Percy and the boy Sunday.

Immediately after the crash, the horses galloped through the new museum’s parking lot, through a residential neighborhood, across a state highway and straight up Deadwood’s historic Main Street before they were caught in a casino parking lot.

The museum was praised by local and state officials, museum representatives and others. It has seven core exhibits that include explorations of the Days of ‘76 celebration and rodeo, Native American history, firearms, the relationship between western legend Buffalo bill Cody and Deadwood saloon owner Mike Russell and a collection of vintage horse-drawn vehicles.

“This new museum and its exhibits reflect the resilience of the many people, whether indigenous or immigrant, who carved out their lives in the Black Hills and the plains of South Dakota,” said Mark Kopco, executive director of Deadwood History.

This year’s 89th running of the Days of ‘76 Rodeo is July 23-29.