No charges in collision with horse that killed Emmett woman

The property owner says he doesn't know what spooked the animal before it caused the March collision.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comApril 21, 2014 

Alma Sanchez celebrates her 43rd birthday last March 4. Two of her daughters still lived with her.

PROVIDED BY SANCHEZ FAMILY

Jeff Spencer and his wife, Jane, didn't hear a pair of horses on their property knock down a fence on the morning of March 3.

The horses flattened a section of a steel-paneled fence, then wandered a half mile up their driveway and onto Idaho 16, Spencer said.

"It's a horrible thing for them to get out and run down the road that way. That's everybody's nightmare," said Spencer, who has been training horses at the site northeast of Star for 16 years.

Spencer said he has 50 to 55 horses on 67 acres.

The ones that got out were not being boarded. They belonged to Patrick Casey Robertson. Spencer said he had just hired Robertson, a professional horse trainer.

"I never saw the horses," Spencer said.

Neither Spencer nor Robertson will face charges for the loose horses - one of which was involved in the fatal crash on Idaho 16, Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Roger Bourne said Friday.

Alma Sanchez, a 43-year-old Emmett woman and driver of the car that hit the horse, died at the scene. Two of her co-workers at Mountain View Packaging in Boise were injured. Guadalupe G. Napoles, 50, and Reyna Barrios, 53, both of Emmett, were taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

The horse that died was a quarterhorse mare that Robertson had planned to sell, Spencer said. Robertson could not be reached last week for this story.

Spencer said he's never been cited for horses at large; no past citations are listed in online court records. Bourne said prosecutors decided against citing Spencer or Roberts for an infraction that had no significant penalty and could, ultimately, burden Sanchez's family with time-consuming court proceedings.

"We've decided to let the civil case take its course," Bourne said.

On Sunday, one of Sanchez's six daughters - Marcia Diaz-Hernandez, a 26-year-old Nampa resident and the second-oldest of the sisters - said she believes one of her younger sisters who lives in Texas plans to pursue a civil suit. She didn't have any details.

NEW DETAILS

The fatal crash happened at about 5 a.m. near Firebird Raceway, close to milepost 106. The women were riding in a black 1997 Honda Accord.

After hitting the horse, the car crossed the oncoming traffic lane, went down an embankment, through a fence, into a field, through another fence and came to rest against a wall at 9019 Broadwood Lane, according to the crash report by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Spencer said he heard sirens and turned on the TV. That was how he learned that a car had struck a horse.

The crash report shows that the car hit the horse straight-on, and the principal point of impact was the front window and top of the car.

The speed limit in that area is 65 mph.

A toxicology test determined that Sanchez was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg said.

The crash report indicates the area where the collision occurred was dark with no street lights. The only weather condition noted on the report was "cloudy," and the road condition was dry.

Spencer recalled the night as "stormy." Data from the National Weather Service in Boise indicate there was light rain early that morning, but wind speeds were low.

'A HORRIBLE THING'

Spencer doesn't know why the horses knocked the fence down, but he said they had to be running pretty hard to knock it flat.

"They had to have been pretty agitated," he said.

The 60-year-old said he hasn't had any contact with the Sanchez family.

"When I talked to the deputy sheriff, I asked him if he would convey my condolences," Spencer said. "I would sure love to be able to offer my condolences. It's a horrible thing."

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