OZAUKEE COUNTY -- An early-morning fatal accident in Ozaukee County happened Thursday, Jan. 3. The driver survived but what he hit did not. The vehicle and a lifelong friendship were ruined in the wreck.
Sadly, investigators say a 55-year-old Grafton man hit a horse with his car Thursday morning. The horse had wandered off the farm along with a donkey, and the owner is devastated.
Looking at the aftermath, it's amazing the driver walked away from the crash. The 2012 Honda CRV was totaled in the crash that happened on Lakefield Road, just west of Port Washington Road at 6:30 a.m.
Ozaukee County investigators say it was dark and the 55-year-old driver couldn't see what was up ahead.
"I walked down the road and saw a bunch of cop cars sitting down there. I ran to the barn to get my dad," said Leah Maciejewski, owner of horse.
Leah Maciejewski knew something was wrong when she noticed the gate to the family farm was left open. Along the roadside, that feeling grew stronger.
"The officers pulled me and said, 'your horse passed away and he didn't suffer'," said Maciejewski.
The driver hit Maciejewski's 1,200-pound horse, James.
"It's forever a hole in my heart," Maciejewski said.
James' 14-year-old owner says she grew up caring for him.
"He just enjoyed every part of all life. He really made me appreciate the little things," said Maciejewski.
The only comfort now is knowing James didn't die alone.
"They are inseparable. For sure," Maciejewski said.
Accompanying James on his daring escape was "Mojo," the donkey. An unlikely pairing but the best of friends.
"Wherever James would go, Mojo would follow along," Maciejewski said.
Maciejewski says the donkey wouldn't leave his friend's side after the impact, and Mojo had to be dragged back to the farm.
"He knew what happened and he didn't want to leave because he knew he wasn't going to see him anymore," Maciejewski said.
James was 25 years old. Investigators say airbags really saved the driver's life in the crash.