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Coyote May Have Spooked Horses Before Fatal Crash

Canine paw prints found inside an enclosure for livestock indicate a dog or coyote may have spooked five horses that died when they broke through the enclosure and were struck by a car early Wednesday morning on state Highway 121 in Napa County, the sheriff's department reported.

The driver of the 2002 Mitsubishi Galant that struck the horses, Mark Steven Trupiano, 46, of Santa Rosa died in the collision.

Sheriff's Capt. John Robertson said the horses broke through a "hot-wire" electric portion of the fenced enclosure on the Miller property in the 4000 block of McKinnon Road southwest of Napa. The electricity in that portion of the fence was functioning, Robertson said.

The bizarre fatal accident affected even veteran officers.

"Nobody likes to see a scene like this," said CHP Officer Jaret Paulson "It's human nature that no one wants to see anything this horrific."

Four of the horses were being kept on the property and a fifth horse was staying there temporarily, Robertson said.

The sheriff's department does not anticipate filing criminal charges against the residents of the property, Robertson said.

The sheriff's department is looking into the care and control of the animals but at this time does not see any criminal conduct, Robertson said.

Some of the horses that were not killed in the collision were put down at the scene of the 5:15 a.m. accident, the California Highway Patrol said. "It's really difficult for us. We have training in that, but you know we're humans," said Officer Paulson. "It's really difficult to take the horse. However, they were badly, badly maimed and injured." Napa County Animal Control officers are also investigating the crash, Robertson said.

The accident closed Highway 121 until around 7:30 a.m.


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