'We are still shaken': Teen killed during Florida equestrian competition remembered as rising star
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 riding a horse during an equitation class on Sunday when the horse tripped and “suffered a rotational fall,” the United States Equestrian Federation said in a statement.
“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 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.
Serfass was a talented equestrian with a bright future ahead. Those who knew the teen described her to Nexstar’s WFLA as a fierce and talented athlete.
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.
According to head track and cross country coach at Wildwood Middle High School, DJuan Graham, 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.
“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.”
Local equestrian Alix Redmonde told WFLA 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 group 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.”
Fox Lea Farm, where the competition was held, shared a statement on social media, saying in part, “We send our sincere condolences to the family, trainer, friends, & the whole equestrian community. We are all heartbroken.”