Vermont trainer saves his horses from fire
By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | August 08,2012
A well-known and respected horse trainer from Sudbury saved the lives of his two draft horses Tuesday night by nearly sacrificing his own.
The harrowing story of how Phillip “Ted” Russell saved two horses he practiced with earlier that day at the Addison County Fair & Field Days for a show this week began when he was driving home in his 10-year-old Ford truck at around 7 p.m.
According to his brother, Mark Russell, Ted’s truck mysteriously caught on fire on Route 30 not far from his farm.
He was in the truck alone and tried to drive the burning vehicle home, along with his horses in the trailer he was towing.
But the flames started shooting into the cab from under the dashboard, according to Vermont State Police.
“He was almost home,” Mark said Wednesday as he drove back to New Haven to get the remaining equipment his brother left there the day before.
“He probably would have stayed in the truck as long as he could of,” Mark said. “He thought he could put the fire out if he got the truck home. But he jumped out of the truck when it was still in motion.”
Ted, 59, leaped from the burning truck to the ground on the rural highway after suffering severe burns to his hands, arms, face, mouth, head and neck, according to his brother and police.
After falling to the ground, Ted ran back to the truck, which had stopped, and was able to unlock the horse trailer.
The two horses got out and ran a half mile toward the farm. They were found in their barn.
Mark Russell said his brother’s primary concern was the horses.
Ted was at Massachusetts General Hospital getting skin grafts Wednesday. He had one done on his arm and at least a second planned for his hands.
For the complete story, see Thursday's Rutland Herald.