JEFFREY COLTON PHOTO
Frank Arnold and Southold Town Police Officer Dave Hunstein walk two ponies safely home last Thursday morning. The animals escaped from fencing on the South Harbor Lane property where Mr. Arnold works as a caretaker.
An alert caretaker was able to call for help and corral two ponies that escaped before dawn last Thursday from property along South Harbor Lane in Southold, averting a repeat of a crash that killed two horses in December.
After noticing the horses were gone,, Frank Arnold, 60, called police about 3:30 a.m., authorities said. The officer on the scene located the animals near the corner of Main Bayview and Grange Road and followed them in his patrol car as they wandered east for about half a mile east on Route 25, police said.
Two more officers and two civilian motorists were able to surround the horses with vehicles at the intersection of Route 25 and Jasmine Lane until Mr. Arnold came to walk them safely back to South Harbor Road, police said.
Mr. Arnold said he happened to be up early, checking on a chicken coop on the property, when he saw the ponies were missing.
“I’ve been having a problem with a weasel getting into the chicken coop,” he said. “So I was up at around 3:30 in the morning to check on the status when I noticed they were gone.”
Mr. Arnold said he then immediately called police for some help to corral the animals before traffic got too busy. He said that he was afraid of a repeat of the gruesome accident on Sound Avenue in Mattituck last December, when a Mattituck woman struck and killed two thoroughbreds as she was driving to work at 5:30 a.m. Those horses had wandered away from Strawberry Fields, about a mile from the accident site. The animals were killed on impact and the woman’s Toyota SUV was totaled.
“There weren’t too many cars on the road that early, fortunately,” Mr. Arnold said, adding that the fencing the horses were able to nudge their way out of has since been secured.
“I learned my lesson,” he said. “I don’t expect this to happen again.”