“I really feared for my life,” said harness racing trainer Kelvin Harrison, after the truck and trailer he was riding in caught fire and burned to the ground Wednesday afternoon. Luckily, the three horses in the trailer and the equipment were safely removed.
The incident happened just 20 miles from Pocono Downs outside of Wilks-Barrie, PA around 4:00 pm.
Harrison was traveling with Enrico Robinson, assistant trainer for P J Fraley, using Fraley’s truck and trailer. They had left earlier in the day from Freehold, NJ. Of the three horses going to race at Pocono Downs that evening, one was Fraley’s, one was Harrison’s and one was Mark Kesmodel’s.
“I was actually taking a little nap,” Harrison said, “When all of a sudden there was this noise and banging coming from the engine of the truck. Then we saw smoke and Enrico pulled right over.
“He was able to find a spot that was sort of a side service road and pulled over,” Harrison explained, “So we were around 40 feet from the main highway. But once we stopped the truck the flames started shooting up and around the hood of the truck.
“I told Enrico that we had to get the horses out right away,” Harrison said. “We got the race bike off, opened the trailer and then Andrew McCarthy, a driver who was also going to race at Pocono Downs, pulled over and he came over and helped us and we got the three horses out of the trailer safely.
“Then a Good Samaritan whose name I can’t recall pulled over,” Harrison added, “and he said his daughter has a riding horse and he wanted to help so we gave him one of the horses to hold.
“Then a fire truck arrived,” Harrison said, “And with their help we were able to get all of the equipment out of the trailer before both the truck and trailer were engulfed in flames and burned to the ground, totally demolished. It was so hot in the equipment room of the trailer that one of coolers was all singed.”
Kelvin Harrison said that if the truck was not diesel but a gas truck, it could have been much worse.
“I knew we have enough time to at least get the horses out,” Harrison explained,” because it was a diesel truck and it would take a while if it would have blown up. If it had been a gas truck it would have blown right away. We were so lucky. As it was the fuel tank still blew up with a major explosion that nearly spooked the horses so bad they almost got away.”
“Andrew McCarthy, the firemen, especially that Good Samaritan who stayed the entire time helping us, nearly an hour and a half,” said Harrison, “they helped bring a happy ending to this event. If not for them it would have been a lot worse than it was.”
Harrison said that traffic was tied up for miles and that by the time they got to Pocono Downs, one of the horses was too late to the paddock and was scratched while the other two raced but did not do well after the traumatic experience.
“I don’t what could have happened to set that truck on fire,” Harrison said. “I feel sorry for PJ Fraley as he lost a good truck and a nice four-horse trailer. I have never been in a situation like this before and hope to never experience it again. It was very scary.”
By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com