An Eden family whose horse was killed in a horrific crash are calling on the Government to reform smart motorways.
The Jackson family, of Gamblesby, are grieving after their prized showjumper Disney died following a pile-up on the M6 at Cheshire on Sunday, April 18.
Both sides of the motorway were closed for several hours, with traffic queueing more than four miles.
Twenty-year-old April Jackson, who was Disney’s main rider, said: “Absolutely devastated doesn’t really cover it. She was so kind natured, honest and really was like my best friend.
She loved attention and cuddles and everybody who met her loved her. I lost her far too soon.
“I urge drivers to remember how important it is to stay alert on the road. Taking your eyes off the road for one second is one second too long in my opinion.
Please do drive safely around horse boxes because they are usually carrying a live animal, meaning they can’t drive as fast or break as sharply.”
The incident took place at 10.44am between junctions 18 and 19 of the M6 in Cheshire, when a lorry and Andrew Jackson’s horsebox were in collision as Andrew drove southbound to Gloucestershire to drop off Disney at Hartpury University, where April studies equine sciences.
Andrew said his vehicle had suffered a major mechanical failure which forced him to come to a stop on the motorway.
He described jumping out of the cab immediately after putting on his hazard lights, and setting off to the nearest emergency phone to alert the authorities.
The incident took place on an all-lane smart motorway — meaning there was no hard shoulder for him to pull on to.
He said that an articulated lorry then hit the rear of the horsebox, with Disney inside. Andrew estimated his vehicle was thrown forward about 50 metres and forced into the middle lane of the motorway.
Following the collision, Disney became trapped inside the horsebox, having suffered serious injuries.
An emergency vet was called and administered a sedative before firefighters cut through the side of the horsebox so the horse could be removed and taken away in another vehicle.
Disney was taken to Ashbrook Equine Hospital, between Holmes Chapel and Knutsford, for what Cheshire Fire called “precautionary checks”.
Vets worked to save Disney, however the animal’s injuries proved more severe than originally thought and April’s horse had to be put down that evening.
Andrew said: “I cannot thank the emergency services enough. Everyone from start to finish was beyond helpful.” In attendance were two fire engines and a specialist rope rescue unit, the police, a vet, an ambulance and a team from Highways England.
“April spent the last 14 months developing the horse, and everyone commented how fit she looked,” added Andrew.
The pair had attended many shows together, and placed in the majority of their classes.
“We can’t bring her back but hopefully we can stop something like this from happening to someone else,” Andrew said. “We are all devastated.”
The Government announced this week that no more smart motorways without hard shoulders can open until radar technology is installed to detect static vehicles.
This is not expected until September 2022.
Andrew said this was not enough to solve the problem and measures should be put in place immediately to create a hard shoulder on every motorway to prevent accidents of this nature happening in the future.
He approached Penrith and the Border MP Dr Neil Hudson, who said: “I am firmly against the use of smart motorways.
“I have raised my concerns with ministers previously and have written to the Transport Secretary and Highways England urging them to reconsider and move away from the use of smart motorways.
“I firmly believe that we need fully functioning hard shoulders on our motorways. Accidents such as these are horrific for all concerned and I believe that we should not be putting drivers at risk of injury or worse, and sadly in this case animals too, which can also become tragic victims.”