Police Horse Dies

Mercury meets school children in August.
Mercury meets school children in August.

It's been a rough few days for Savannah's mounted patrol. Friday night, they lost one of their own--13-year veteran Mercury--while patrolling the fairgrounds. Mercury was only 15 years old and was considered to be in his prime. He came from a good bloodline and had no health problems, that's why everyone who worked with him is still in shock that he's gone.

"He was just the horse that I could send to anything," recalled Sgt. Gene Lawhorn.

Friday evening, Mercury suffered a major heart attack and died. "It was very unexpected," said Lawhorn. "We lost a really good horse."

And not just a horse, but an officer with 13 years of experience on the force. "If you calculate it, Mercury was probably one of the more veteran officers in this department," said Lawhorn.

That's why the police stables flag is at half staff and colleagues are mourning the loss of a good officer and a friend. "You spend 40 hours a week on him and you become close and you depend on him and he depends on you," said Lawhorn.

Officer John Nordman told us you "can't replace experience that the horse had on the streets, training he's had...it's irreplaceable."

The night he died, officers buried Mercury just several yards away from the stables where he grew up. Police plan on retiring Mercury's badge number and say they will eventually get another horse, but no horse will ever replace Mercury.

Officers plan on holding a memorial for Mercury this Thursday at 1pm at the police stables. They expect several mounted patrol divisions from across the region to attend and pay their respects to the fallen officer.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com