Teen equestrian killed in accident during competition

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 11:52 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A teenage girl has died following an accident during a competitive hunter jumper event in Sarasota.

The incident occurred on April 30. Sarasota County deputies and Sarasota County Fire and Rescue responded to Fox Lea Farms on North Auburn Rd. for the report of a 15-year-old horse rider being injured. The victim has been formally identified as Hannah Serfass.

Sheriff’s officials tell ABC7 that Serfass was competing in an event at Fox Lea Farms. The rider was about halfway through the course and had just made the # 6 jump. The horse landed the jump successfully and took a few steps towards the next hurdle and for unknown reasons planted its left front hoof which caused the horse to lean down. This caused the rider to topple forward and off the horse.

The horse then continued to fall in the same direction falling over and onto the rider’s head on the ground. Fox Lea Farms personnel and others immediately began first aid on the victim until SCFD arrived and took over.

Serfass was subsequently transported to the Venice area Sarasota Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.

Fox Lea Farms issued a statement on the incident:

It is with our deepest sympathy the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announces that Hannah Serfass suffered a fatal accident yesterday, April 30, while competing at the Fox Lea Farm Spring Concours I in Venice, Fla.

Hannah, 15, was riding Quaxx 2, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, in an equitation class when the horse tripped and suffered a rotational fall. The fall was unrelated to a jumping effort. The EMT responded immediately, and Hannah was transported to Sarasota Memorial where she was pronounced dead. The horse was uninjured in the accident.

Hannah from Webster, Fla., was a very talented up-and-coming young rider who trained with Robin Swinderman. She was known for her passion for horses, her natural ability, and her work ethic.

The USEF, USHJA, and Fox Lea Farm team wish to extend our deepest condolences to Hannah’s family, support team, and friends.

The Federation takes every accident very seriously and will be reviewing the accident thoroughly to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport.

Serfass was a member of Sumter County 4-H.