Horse Hit by Truck, Then Put to Death : Accident: After wandering out of corral, mare was struck on busy La Tuna Canyon Road.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A pickup truck struck a horse on La Tuna Canyon Road Thursday night, seriously injuring the animal, which had to be killed.

Gypsy, a 29-year-old mare, wandered out of her corral and onto the 9100 block of the busy street about 6:40 p.m., said Sgt. Rod Grahek of the Los Angeles Police Department.

A truck driven by Armando Tapia, 32, of Pacoima, struck the mare, carrying the horse on its hood until the vehicle hit the curb and threw the animal 15 feet into a nearby fence, breaking the mare's back, witnesses and police said.

No one else was injured in the accident and Tapia was not held, Grahek said.

Owner Pam Miller-Mitchell tearfully gave a local veterinarian permission to give the horse a lethal injection, neighbors of the small equestrian community said.

"Pam is devastated," said Ronda McPherson, a friend and local resident. "The horse was her lifelong companion and was a real local celebrity around here."

Although old, Gypsy was in extremely good health, according to friends of Miller-Mitchell. The horse was raised at Miller-Mitchell's small Sun Valley ranch from the age of 2, they said.

For years, neighbors said they have asked city officials for horse railings to be placed along the busy thoroughfare to prevent such accidents but to no avail.

"This isn't an isolated incident," said McPherson, 37, of Lake View Terrace. "It has happened again and again up and down La Tuna Canyon," she said, noting that Gypsy was the third horse to be killed on the street in the past seven years.

Gypsy's colt was killed 10 years ago when he unknowingly galloped onto the same street, McPherson said.

"We are working middle-class people here that put everything we have into keeping this lifestyle. We have paid a premium to live here and we deserve the same kind of attention as some of the more affluent areas like Griffith Park."

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