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Accident victims honored at equine center dedication

By Jeffrey Douglas

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 35 - July 11, 1996

Three members of the 1995 Pony Club International Mounted Games Exchange who died in an accident were honored in June, when one of the Intensive Care Unit facilities at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia was dedicated in their memory.

The Intensive Care Unit will memorialize Australian coach Alan Hession and team member Paul Coulson, and American team member Frances Pitts, all of whom were killed during an automobile accident in Lexington, Ky., just before the 1995 games.

The accident occurred in August, two days before the scheduled competition at the Kentucky Horse Park. Twelve others were injured in the accident.

"This tragedy was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the history of this sport," said Richard Gargagliano, hospital administrator at the Equine Medical Center, which is operated by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

"This event will help everyone continue the healing process," added Gargagliano, whose 14-year old daughter Laura, a member of the United States team, escaped serious injury during the automobile accident.

"This tragedy will always weigh heavily on all of us in the equine sporting world," said G. Frederick Fregin, director of the Equine Medical Center. "But hopefully, this ceremony will help celebrate the world-class dreams, aspirations, and courage of those members who lost their lives, and all who were part of this terrible tragedy."

The International Mounted Games Exchange began in 1975 and annually features leading youth competitors from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, and Canada in an event that is hosted by each nation in alternating years. With origins in Great Britain, the fast-action games require precision teamwork and involve a series of events like vaulting, dunking, and pole-bending.

Founded in 1984 with gifts from the late Marion duPont Scott and the Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation, the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center serves as the Leesburg campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.