Police are warning farmers, land owners and walkers to check gates are locked after a horse escaped and died in a crash on a major Devon road, writes Jon Bayley.
The tragedy began after motorists reported five horses walking on the A380 around Ideford at 8.50pm on Monday.
At 8.54pm one of the horses collided with a grey Peugeot 307 being driven by woman from Paignton.
The horse was killed in the crash on the Torquay-bound carriageway. In a lucky escape the female driver of the car suffered only minor injuries.
Police closed both lanes of the carriageway around Ideford and at the Ashcombe junction at 9am. Motorists and a local farmer came to the rescue and helped round-up the other four horses.
Two Exeter-based fire crews, from Danes Castle and Middlemoor, made the car safe. The dead horse was taken away by the farmer, who police say was not responsible for the horses, and the road was reopened at 11.15pm.
The crash is one of many examples of horses, and farmland animals, escaping and running onto public roads, say police.
PC Ryan Canning in Plymouth said: "Hedges and vegetation are less dense during the winter months, which means horses and sheep find it easier to escape. The incident on the A380 last night was very sad but could have been far, far worse."
"We would like to appeal to horse and sheep owners and footpath walkers, for the safety of the animals and the public, to ensure gates and padlocks are secure and fencing is well maintained," he added.
On February 14 police were called after four horses were reported running toward the Tesco supermarket in Roborough, Plymouth.
It was the third sighting of horses which escaped in Plymouth during that week.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall police said: "We are investigating how the horses came to escape and run onto the A380."