Tears as hearse collapses on way to funeral

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Mourners were left in tears after a horse-drawn hearse lost two of its wheels on the way to a funeral.

The carriage is thought to have hit black ice as the procession travelled along Portsdown Hill Road to Portchester Crematorium.

Two of the four horses veered off, causing the hearse to lose control shortly after 11am yesterday.

Luckily the accident didn't dislodge the coffin, which was transferred to a following motor hearse. The funeral was able to go ahead on time.

Ricki Wake took this picture of the aftermath as he was driving back from work at nearby Fort Southwick.

The 43-year-old builder said: 'It had obviously only just happened when I pulled up; we were more or less the first ones there because the traffic was just starting to get backed up.

'One wheel was under the cart and the other had come off completely and was back down the road. The horses were nowhere to be seen.

'People were getting out of their cars behind it and there a lot of tears from them – it must have been devastating for the family.

'It looked like it was a fairly big procession. There were four or five funeral cars behind the hearse.'

Funeral-director firm Meridian Funerals offered its sympathy to the family.

Spokeswoman Ruth Chadwick said: 'We understand from the carriage masters who supplied and drove the horse-drawn hearse, that one set of reins broke, due possibly to hitting black ice, causing two of the four horses to veer to the right and turn against the carriage.

'The wooden spokes snapped, resulting in the carriage touching the ground.'

She added: 'No-one nor any of the horses was injured as a result of the incident and the family and mourners still arrived at the crematorium on time. We have expressed our regret to the family concerned, and will be visiting them later this week.

'We've never experienced such an incident before.'

Francis Ensor, deputy registrar at Portchester Crematorium, said: 'They arrived on time, and as far as I am aware everything went to plan here.'