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Stampeding horses smashed up my van: Driver's brush with death in Derry

A Londonderry man had a brush with death after a horse from a group that stampeded through an estate hit his van and crashed into the windscreen.

More than 30 horses were filmed racing through the streets after they escaped from a field above Creggan on Monday night.

Self-employed plasterer Martin Callaghan (29), from the Glen area of the city, was on his way to visit his dad when the animals came racing up the street towards him.

"I was up in Creggan to visit my father shortly before 11pm and had pulled over because there was a woman standing with a little white foal at the side of the road," he explained.

As the pair were talking, the rest of the horses came racing around the corner.

"I'd never seen anything like it. I told the woman to run and get against the railings. I thought they would just trample me and the van," Mr Callaghan said.

"It all happened so quickly. If she had stayed beside the van, she would have been killed, no doubt about it.

"I started to flash my lights and beep my horn. They (the horses) were thumping the side of the van and going around it.

"I could see them out every window, these big massive horses, around 30 or 40 of them, all galloping past.

"Then this big brown and white one came right for me.


Mr Callaghan’s damaged van

Mr Callaghan’s damaged van

The stampeding horses

The stampeding horses

Mr Callaghan’s damaged van

"They were in stampede mode and I think it was trying to jump over my van.

"It jumped up on the bonnet, slipped and then its chest hit the bonnet and its head came through the windscreen right in front of me. The windscreen is completely wrecked.

"The bonnet of my work van is slanted. I think the horse's hoof slipped. Had it not slipped, the horse - the full weight of it - would have been up on the van.

"Its hooves or its body would have surely come through the windscreen and I'm sure I would have been killed.

"His head came through the windscreen directly where my head was.

"The only thing that saved me was the angle on the bonnet, otherwise his head would have come right down on top of me.

"There was nowhere for me to escape. I couldn't do anything and couldn't get out of the van. Had I got out, I would have been trampled."

The father-of-four counts himself lucky to be alive.

"When you're stuck in the driver's seat and there's this horse coming down on top of you and there is literally nothing you can do, it makes you think," he said.

"I think I'm still in shock... I'm just glad to be here today.

"People were sharing this video online, thinking it was funny.

"It was no laughing matter sitting in that van seeing them coming towards me and having one come in on top of me. It was absolutely terrifying."

The PSNI said officers spoke to the owner of the horses, which were taken back to their field.

Belfast Telegraph