VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — The equestrian community is shaken after a Florida teen was killed in a tragic accident during a competition in Venice this weekend.
Hannah Serfass, 15, was a talented equestrian with a bright future ahead. Those who knew the teen described her to 8 On Your Side as a fierce and talented athlete. In addition to her abilities in the equestrian realm, Serfass was also a talented runner.
Head track and cross country coach at Wildwood Middle High School DJuan Graham said Serfass was the only female athlete on Wildwood’s cross country team. The teen was homeschooled, but participated in district sports.
“We were excited to watch her growth continue because her times just got to the point where she was ready to embark upon competing for a state title,” said Coach Graham.
Coach Graham said the teen had a passion for both running and horses.
“She did both of them with equal passion. She was talented, plus she was going to work hard,” said the coach.
As her teammates, coaches, and others in Sumter County mourn her loss, they’re remembering the bright life she lived. Her coach said she was soft spoken, but also a “ferocious competitor” and leader.
“We are going to miss that a lot, just the way she smiled, always had something positive to say, and just extremely competitive. She just was a beautiful person inside and out,” said Coach Graham. ” We are still grieving and will continue to grieve, but we are going to try to find what her parents would want us to do for her as a tribute as a memorial to her life.”
The United States Equestrian Federation released a statement that included the details surrounding the accident.
“Hannah was riding Quaxx 2, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, in an equitation class when the horse tripped and suffered a rotational fall. The fall was unrelated to a jumping effort. The EMT responded immediately, and Hannah was transported to Sarasota Memorial where she was pronounced dead. The horse was uninjured in the accident,” the US Equestrian statement stated.
The Federation went on to say it takes every accident seriously and will be reviewing the incident to learn what can be done to minimize risk and increase safety in equestrian sport.
“We send our sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends, & the whole equestrian community. We are all heartbroken,” Fox Lea Farm wrote in a post on social media.
Local equestrian Alix Redmonde said she was shocked when she heard what happened to the teen and called the incident a “freak accident.”
“Accidents can happen and this was just a terrible tragedy,” said Redmonde. “There is nothing that we can say to the family that will ever be able to console them, but as a child, that grew up with horses, I think that they gave their child the greatest gift in the world because for those of us that love horses and love riding, we can’t imagine living in a world where we can’t do that,” she continued.