BELLEVUE, Iowa (AP) -- The buggy driver whose horses trampled spectators at this town's Fourth of July parade had tried desperately to stop the rampage, clinging to the reins as the animals dragged him down the street, his family said Monday.
Mardell Steines was in the buggy with his wife, Janet, his daughter-in-law, his 7-year-old grandson and his 5-year-old granddaughter Sunday when the horses bolted toward the end of the parade, injuring 24 people and killing Janet Steines.
Police said the horses were spooked after they rubbed heads and the bridle fell off one of them. The animals went on a rampage over six blocks, plowing through spectators and children stooping to snatch up candy that had been tossed along the parade route.
"If he ever envisioned a situation would happen that would cause harm to others, it would have destroyed him," said Ken Walsh, whose daughter was in the buggy. "He was trying his damnedest to get those horses under control."
The buggy struck a combine in the parade and a road sign, Walsh said. Janet Steines was thrown out and struck a concrete driveway. She died at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.
The hitch came undone and the carriage separated from the horses, running over Steines as he held onto the reins, said Walsh, 61, whose daughter, Jenny Steines, is married to Steines' son.
Steines' shirt was shredded as the horses dragged him down the street, Walsh said.
Meanwhile, Jenny Steines clutched her children as the carriage rolled over. The roof protected them and they emerged with only bumps and bruises, Walsh said. He wasn't sure when Mardell Steines let go of the reins, but said he refused medical treatment.
The horses finally rammed into the Maquoketa State Bank float at an intersection. The horses went down, and people leaped on them to hold them down, witnesses said.