Fraser Downs horseman Keith Dicks’ cart flips during Race 7 on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (Elements Casino live feed screenshot)

Driver seriously injured at Cloverdale’s Fraser Downs racetrack

Accident at Fraser Downs leaves two injured men on the track for 20 minutes

An accident at Fraser Downs racetrack on Sunday left two injured drivers lying on the track for 20 minutes before paramedics arrived.

The incident left some questioning the effectiveness of safety protocols currently in place at the track.

On Sunday afternoon, standardbred Mach Majorette made a bad break out of the starting gate in Race 7. One of the wheels of the sulky (the two-wheeled cart pulled behind the horse that carries the driver) was caught by the wheel of another cart, spilling driver Keith Dicks onto the track.

Dicks, who was seriously injured in the incident, has since undergone major surgeries for a broken hip and a broken knee — both of which had to be replaced. He also fractured his left shoulder, broke his wrist and multiple ribs, and sustained a concussion.

As of Thursday morning, Dicks remained at Surrey Memorial Hospital, surgery on his shoulder. His doctors are still assessing what the best treatment will be for his broken wrist.

Despite this, Dicks is “in good spirits,” according to Carla Robin, executive director of Harness Racing BC.

John Abbott, driving RD Billie, was also injured in the accident. He sustained a separated shoulder and some damage to soft tissue and muscle. He was released from medical care with his arm in a sling.

“The two of them have very positive attitudes,” said Robin.

Injuries are always a possibility when working in what Robin said could be called an “extreme sport.”

Mach Majorette had never made a break before Sunday’s race. But accidents happen, even to drivers like Dicks who are lifelong horsemen.

What happens next, however, is down to the safety protocols put in place by the track operator, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC), Robin said, and the response time on Sunday was “not as good as it could have been.”

According to Robin, it took approximately 20 minutes for B.C. Ambulance Services to reach the injured men on the track. She said there was a delay in calling 911and when Surrey Fire and B.C. Ambulance arrived, their drivers were unsure of how to reach the track, first responding to the front of Elements Casino, and then to a parking lot alongside the track.

“Someone had to drive out with a pickup truck to guide them,” said Robin.

The emergency vehicles also reportedly had problems getting up and over the lip of the track itself, as the build-up of the track surface made it difficult to do so.

“The track operator is responsible for ensuring that the drivers and horses are safe,” said Robin. “Great Canadian is responsible for having a proper protocol in place.”

When the accident occurred, two first-aid attendants attended saw to the injured, using a cube van stocked with medical supplies, but they were unable to move the men.

Both Dicks and Abbott, meanwhile, lay immobile on the track. Dicks, due to his injuries, could not move, while Abbott, not realizing the extent of his own injuries, had tried to move away from the danger posed by the loose horses and passed out.

One of those loose horses kicked Dicks while he was down, cracking his helmet.

Horsemen jumped the fence of the track to look after the horses following the incident. “They took that into their own hands,” said Robin, noting that they had the experience to contain the loose horses, which can be dangerous.

One horse was a “little banged up” from the accident, but did not sustain any injuries that would endanger its career, according to Robin.

For an “extreme sport,”as Robin called it, harness racing at Fraser Downs does not often have serious accidents. There hasn’t been a serious injury since October 2015, when driver Rick White sustained four broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

Robin said Harness Racing BC’s paramount concernis to ensure that the minimum safety requirements are not only met but exceeded, due to the risk present.

She noted that “having paramedics in place would be wonderful,” but said that safety equipment and staffing decisions are the responsibility of GCGC.

The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation did not respond to questions asked by the Cloverdale Reporter. Instead, Darren MacDonald, director of racing operations in B.C. for GCGC, sent the following statement:

“We take the safety of everyone at Fraser Downs very seriously, and especially those that participate in racing. As part of that commitment, during all races at Fraser Downs, there are two first aid attendants (Occupational First Aid Level 2 and Occupational First Aid Level 3) available to assist with any accidents that may occur during a race.

“As a precaution, the OFA level 3 attendant is always stationed at the centre of the racetrack so that he/she can monitor the area and be as close as possible to the potential scene of an accident. The accident that occurred on Feb. 4th was immediately attended by both first aid attendants on-site (sic) and an ambulance was called right after the incident occurred.

“We cannot speculate or speak to the reasons why the ambulance did not arrive any earlier, but our primary obligation and responsibility during any such incident is to care for the injured and deploy all of our first-aid measures until the ambulance personnel arrive.”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Saturday was devoted to the arts in Langley City

The 25th annual Arts Alive festival took over a main thoroughfare.

Arena opens at Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre

Grand procession brings Aldergrove ice arena users to new facility

Regional fuchsia and geranium club firmly rooted in Langley

The club’s annual show and competition Saturday filled St. Andrew’s Anglican Church with colour.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

B.C. man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Most Read