Veteran 2004 US Olympian event rider Darren Chiachia of New York was transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Trauma Unit earlier today for treatment of critical injuries suffered at an obstacle on the cross-country course at the Red Hills Horse Trial nearby.
According to the event organizers tonight, more tests are needed and Darren, 42, is being treatment by the appropriate specialists.
Darren was injured at fence 5C on the Preliminary course; his mount, Baron Verdi, was apparently uninjured. The rider was quickly treated by EMS units and transported to the hospital by Life Flight, a medical helicopter emergency service.
Three months before making his 2002 World Equestrian Games debut, Chiacchia broke both hips in the worst riding accident of his career during the cross-country portion of the Bromont event in Quebec.
Darren, who splits his year between Springville, New York, where he trains at Independence Farm, and Ocala, Florida, was in first place after dressage in the Preliminary division when the accident happened. As is common in eventing, he had horses to ride in several divisions, including two in the *** World Cup, where he was in 4th and 12th place behind leaders Amy Tryon and Leslie Law after dressage and one in the CIC*** where he was also in 12th place.
Red Hill organizers have asked that people not call the hospital to inquire about Darren.
Also today at Red Hills, two horses appear to have collapsed and died on the cross-country course. Rider Jonathan Holling’s horse Direct Merger went down near Fence #8. “The accident was in no way related to a jump on course,” Hollings said in a published statement to the media.
In negotiating the combination Fence #17 A and B, Missy Miller and Leprechauns Rowdy Boy fell. The horse suffered seizures, according to onlookers, after the fall and then died. The rider was not injured.
Owners and riders are awaiting necropsy results from post-mortem testing on the two dead horses at the University of Florida in Gainesville while the entire horse world crosses its collective fingers that Darren’s injuries are not as severe as reports make them sound.
Well-wishers can visit the quickly-formed “Best Wishes to Darren” Facebook page to communicate support for him during his recovery.