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Deadwood museum opening marred by wagon crash

DEADWOOD (AP) -- Four people were injured in a horse-drawn wagon crash in Deadwood this weekend, which marred the opening ceremonies for the Days of '76 Museum.

The free wagon rides were part of the opening of the $5.5 million museum, which tells the story of the American West.

The wagon overturned in the rodeo grounds' arena after one of the two draft horses pulling it was apparently spooked, said Chelsea Percy, 20.

"I'm not sure exactly what happened. I was sitting in the back seat," Percy said, nursing a bruised arm and head shortly after the accident. "I'm doing fine, but all of a sudden the horses just started running. Then we crashed."

Percy was taken to Lead-Deadwood Hospital along with wagon driver Wilbur Newland of Belle Fourche and two other wagon riders, including a 3-year-old boy. Percy and the boy were hospitalized in fair condition Saturday afternoon, while the other two had been treated and released, a hospital spokesman told the newspaper. Hospital employees were unable to provide an update on Percy and the boy Sunday.

Immediately after the crash, the horses galloped through the new museum's parking lot, through a residential neighborhood, across a state highway and straight up Deadwood's historic Main Street before they were caught in a casino parking lot.

The museum was praised by local and state officials, museum representatives and others. It has seven core exhibits that include explorations of the Days of '76 celebration and rodeo, Native American history, firearms, the relationship between western legend Buffalo Bill Cody and Deadwood saloon owner Mike Russell and a collection of vintage horse-drawn vehicles.

"This new museum and its exhibits reflect the resilience of the many people, whether indigenous or immigrant, who carved out their lives in the Black Hills and the plains of South Dakota," said Mark Kopco, executive director of Deadwood History.

This year's 89th running of the Days of '76 Rodeo is July 23-29.