Driver 'steamrolls' into horse and rider

Karen Rutherford, Newshub chief of staff (Newshub.)
Karen Rutherford, Newshub chief of staff (Newshub.)

An Auckland journalist says she is lucky to be alive, after the horse she was riding was hit and killed by a car on Saturday.

Karen Rutherford, Newshub chief of staff, suffered broken legs, ribs and toes, gashes and a concussion. The horse, Curious George, was killed.

Mrs Rutherford says the driver, who spoke little English, didn't come to see if she was okay - and even tried to leave the scene.

"Thank goodness we have four witnesses who saw his reckless act as he steamrolled into us."

The collision happened on Postman Rd in Dairy Flat, north Auckland. Mrs Rutherford and her daughter Ella were riding single file, facing the oncoming traffic "as we always do on that part of Postman Rd where visibility is tricky for drivers coming up behind us", she wrote on Facebook.

They saw the driver coming from about 200m away.

"We did not stand a chance… he never slowed," wrote Mrs Rutherford.

Ella was riding horse Chico in front, and screamed at the driver to slow down, to no avail.

"There were no other cars - he had all the room in the world," says Mrs Rutherford.

"He never did slow. Instead he came within 30cm of Chico on the white lines, before ploughing into George's leg, ripping it half off.

"I was thrown into the windscreen and rolled into a deep ditch next to where we'd been riding."

St John Ambulance arrived within 10 minutes and took Mrs Rutherford to hospital with possibly life-threatening injuries.

Newshub understands it took 40 minutes for police to arrive at the scene, despite being told the driver was trying to leave. Callers to 111 were told police were "too busy".

Her daughter used her top to wrap George's severed leg, cradling his head in her arms until he died.

"She said George was so brave. I'm just relieved it was me that got hit and not Ella," says Mrs Rutherford. "Things would've been very different."

Mrs Rutherford is recovering in Auckland City Hospital. She and Ella have received dozens messages of support from friends and family - even the Wilson sisters of Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas fame.

Waitemata's inspector of road policing is now overseeing the investigation into the driver's actions.