MADERA RANCHOS, Calif. - A white pony outfitted as a unicorn for a children's birthday party lead CHP officers on a not so merry chase Wednesday night, as it darted in and out of traffic for several hours on busy Avenue 12 in Madera.
CHP PIO officer Joshua McConnell said the pony had first darted away from a child about 2:30 that afternoon and was recaptured shortly thereafter.
"Then it escaped again from another child about 5:30 pm and ran out on to the roadways. It was seen in traffic on Avenue 12 from about Road 33 all the way to Road 35, where it was finally located in an orchard by the CHP H40 helicopter, using the heat seeking FLIR radar," McConnell said.
A nearby resident with another horse on her property helped officers approach and finally capture the frisky pony.
Some motorists were surprised and hesitant to report the pony with the pink halter and the horn in the roadway as a unicorn, but others were quite sure they had actually seen one.
All joking aside, McConnell said, had the pony been hit by a car moving at roadway speed the driver and any occupants could have been seriously injured or killed.
Animals running in roadways are a daily local roadway hazard, he said, and cause a significant number of traffic accidents when drivers hit them, slam on their brakes or swerve and lose control trying to avoid them.
"Children should not be tasked with restraining any animal near roadways, especially the large ones."
The unruly 500 to 600 pound pony would have also likely been injured or killed, he said.
"No injures were reported but there were several near misses (by cars). The pony was just lucky. It was to it's owner unharmed and was secured. No citations were issued in this case, but had the pony been hit by a car - it would have been a different story. The business or owner providing the pony would have been financially liable for all injuries, property damages and other costs, which could have been significant," McConnell said.
Photos by DJ Becker.