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"I'm lucky I wasn't killed," says driver after hitting horse on highway

Michael Howell is fortunate he walked away, from a January crash. He swerved but still hit a horse in the middle of Highway 269 in West Birmingham. Howell hopes by sharing his story, owners of horses and other livestock will be more responsible.

"They were in a full run," recalled Howell. He first saw them as he came over a hill early one morning. Someone with a flashlight was trying to herd them out of the highway.

"As I looked up, five horses were in the middle of the roadway. I swerved but the horse's head hit the windshield," explains Howell. The horse was killed and the others ran off.

Howell only had liability insurance, so he had hoped the owner would come forward and cover his vehicle's damage estimated at about $2,000. "They should be responsible my for my car; it wasn't my fault," says Howell.

With no markings or tags on the horse, Birmingham police couldn't find the owner. Fighting For You did a little detective work. First stop, a nearby barn where Howell says the other horses galloped off toward.

We found the gates locked. But days later three men were repairing the front gate saying someone had tried to break into the pasture area off Minor Parkway. They said the loose horses from the accident were not theirs.

We found another pasture nearby with the fences falling down. The two horses there appeared malnourished and we alerted police.

Local homeowners and a neighborhood church said they often see loose horses in the area. The mounted patrol is called out on occasion to round them up.

"They can jump over a fence or with their body weight push a fence over that's already damaged," explains Officer Maurice Cooley with the Birmingham Police department's mounted patrol.

The horse Officer Cooley rides, weighs 1,600 pounds. Imagine the danger to both the animal and driver in a collision. "Somebody should be responsible for these horses; they are definitely owned by somebody," says Cooley. If you see livestock near roadways, call 9-1-1.

A local attorney says it's extremely hard to prove negligence in these cases. It's like hitting a deer; It's nobody's fault unless you can prove the animals are getting out often.

Howell is having to borrow a car for work now.

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