Sharon Slayden, a Jacksonville resident trekking to El Paso on horseback to fight against cancer, had almost made it to her destination when she and her horse were struck by a potentially drunk driver.

Cherokee County Relay For Life Committee Member Debbie Griffin said she and her husband, Bob, were helping an ambulance driver fix a flat tire Monday at dusk when it happened.

“They had almost made it to El Paso and were somewhere between Van Horn and Sierra Blanca (roughly 120 miles from El Paso) on a service road,” Griffin said. “They stopped to render aid to an emergency medical technician changing a flat tire on an ambulance and were kind of under a hill.”

She said another vehicle topped the hill at high speed and struck Slayden and her horse, killing the horse and severely injuring Slayden. Griffin added Slayden required knee and ankle surgery, but was stable as of Wednesday morning. She also said Slayden suffered damage to her pelvis.

“We’re just all heartbroken,” Griffin said of the incident. “This was such an awesome undertaking and we wish her the best and that she’ll heal quickly.”

Griffin said the horse, Shadow, frequented Relay For Life activities and even helped raise money by sponsoring pony rides for children.

An e-mail message from Cherokee County Relay For Life Chair Cynthia Kline stated Slayden had a multi-hour surgery Tuesday and is expected to face ankle surgery Thursday.

“She is stable and in great spirits,” Kline stated. “If all goes well, they hope to be released over the weekend. She has already vowed to do the ride again next year and plans to ride in Tyler’s Rose Parade in a buggy.”

Griffin stated Slayden was on her horse when she and Shadow were struck by a passenger truck. Her husband wasn’t injured in the accident, she added.

No word was available at press time about the status of the vehicle driver from authorities.

Donations for support or compassion may be made to RFL of Cherokee County. Mail to PO Box 2364, Jacksonville, TX, 75766.