Hannah Serfass: Florida Equestrian Dies after Horse Falls on Her Head During Competition

Hannah Serfass
Hannah Serfass Facebook

A 15-year-old equestrian was killed Sunday during a competition in Florida after a horse knocked her off and fell on her head.

Hannah Serfass, of Webster, Florida, was competing in the Fox Lea Farm Spring Concours I in Venice, about 70 miles from Tampa, when "the horse tripped and suffered a rotational fall," the U.S. Equestrian Federation said in a statement.

Horse Caused Serfass to Fall Forwards Before Collapsing on Her

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said Serfass was about halfway through the course in a jumper event when she tried the sixth jump.

"The horse landed the jump successfully and took two or three steps/gallops toward the next hurdle and for unknown reasons planted its left foot, which caused the horse to lean down significantly towards its left front hoof," authorities said.

"This action caused the rider to then topple forward and off the horse in the same direction and onto the ground," the sheriff's office said. "The horse then continued to fall in the same direction falling over and onto the rider's head on the ground."

What is a Rotational Fall?

According to The Grassroot Gazette, rotational falls are the leading cause of death and serious injuries when it comes to equestrian sports. It refers to a horse hitting a fence with its forelegs or chest. When this leads to the horse and rider's body being thrown forward, it can have the fence act as a pivot point, resulting in the horse landing on top of the rider.

Several top performers have experienced rotational falls in the past, including Darren Chiacchia. After the accident, the equestrian was in a coma, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, and broken ribs.

Serfass Rushed to Hospital After Fall, Pronounced Dead

Hannah Serfass
Hannah Serfass Facebook

After the fall, Fox Lea Farm personnel immediately rushed to Serfass' aid until deputies arrived. She was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. The horse, Quaxx 2, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, was not injured.

Serfass was described as a talented up-and-coming rider. The federation said she was known for her work ethic and her love of horses.

Fox Lea Farm said in a statement that it sends its "sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends, & the whole equestrian community. We are all heartbroken." The federation will review the accident "to learn what we can do to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport," it said.