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Car attempting to overtake funeral carriage kills horse & causes more grief for family

Late Elizabeth Morris
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A grieving family was left devastated after a car smashed into a great-grandmother's horse-drawn funeral cortege and killed one of the animals.

Elizabeth Morris's coffin was being taken to the crematorium in Bridgend, South Wales, when a Renault Scenic attempted to overtake the cortege and careered into the side.


The 74-year-old's bereft family then watched in horror as the carriage driver Mark Evans, 58, was thrown from the vehicle. His Friesian stallion Will was also knocked to the ground in the smash and later had to be put down due to serious injuries.

Since upsetting photographs emerged of Will lying injured in the road, thousands of people have shared them on social media and started using the hashtag #justiceforwill to pay tribute to the animal.

Today, Mrs Morris's granddaughter Kirsty Thomas described the chaos that ensued after the crash. The beloved grandmother, who had arranged her own funeral two years earlier, died from lung cancer and her family were carrying out her dying wish of having a horse take her to the ceremony.

The 31-year-old said: 'This was supposed to be our last memory of her and it was just devastating how it turned out.

'I've never seen anything like it. The horses were thrown up in the air and the driver was thrown like a rag doll too. It just turned into total chaos. People were running around and had no idea what had happened.'

The carriage wobbled on its wheels but did not topple over, meaning the coffin stayed in position. But Ms Thomas said her first instinct was to race over to her grandmother.

'I knew she was already dead but I just wanted to know she was okay,' she said.

'Nobody knew what to do. It felt like the whole funeral was sabotaged.

'She planned this funeral herself two years ago and up until this point it was beautiful. Seeing this felt as bad as the day she actually passed away.'

More than 20 cars were following the cortège from Mrs Morris's home in the village of Sarn when the crash took place on Tuesday morning.

According to witnesses, the car was attempting to overtake the carriage.

Mrs Morris's eldest son Troy Morris, a railway worker, also described how he rushed to perform first aid on Mr Evans after the collision. Luckily, he was not seriously injured.

The 49-year-old said: 'Mark was on his knees and his head was bleeding.

'He just wanted to sort the horses out in case they decided to bolt, but I made sure he didn't get up too quickly.'

Mr Morris said he then managed to take charge of the situation and encourage everyone to 'calm down'.

'Me, my brother, my brother-in-law and my son had to lift my mother's coffin into the hearse, with the flowers and everything,' he said.

Mr Morris added that he was 'devastated' about the horse.

'They were stunning creatures and it's what my mother had always wanted, she'd said it all her life,' he said.

'A funeral is never a lovely day, but it was fine weather and everything looked beautiful up until that moment. I am reliving the crash all the time.'

Helen Evans, who runs the Mark Evans Horse Drawn Carriage Master firm with her husband, said 15-year-old Will had been working in the business with his partner Tom since they were three.

Mrs Evans said: 'Will's death has had a devastating effect on us. Will was one of two horses, so we can't work without him. We were down to our last pair.

'Will was such a gentleman. Everyone in the area knew Tom and Will. They are amazing animals. They came to us together and they have been working for us for 12 years.'

She added: 'You can't put a price on Will's worth. He was invaluable to us. We are devastated.'

The funeral went ahead as planned later that morning. The news of the crash was broken to guests who had not formed part of the procession.

Mrs Morris, a retired machinist who was known as Maureen by friends, died on February 9 after a battle with lung cancer.

The mother-of-four is survived by her husband, four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Jack Walsh, senior manager at Co-op Funeralcare, said: 'This was an extremely unfortunate incident and our priority continues to be the welfare of our colleagues and on supporting the family.

'We continue to work with the police and I would like to express my thanks to our colleagues on handling this sensitive situation so professionally.'

A spokesman for South Wales Police said: 'A collision did occur. One male, a coach master, sustained minor injuries but a horse was seriously injured and had to be euthanised by a vet.

'It happened on Bryncoch Road, just off the Sarn Bypass. The incident log showed that police arrived after just 11 minutes. The matter is under investigation and no arrests have been made.'