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Carriage company considering civil suit after charges nixed for woman accused of startling horses with T. rex costume

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T.rex scares carriage horses (copy) (copy)

A woman in a Tyrannosaurus rex costume scared a pair of carriage horses on May 18, 2017. The driver was the only person injured when he was thrown from the carriage. The horses were not injured, although one sat down in fear, handlers said. File/Palmetto Carriage Works/Provided

After city prosecutors on Wednesday dropped two minor charges against a woman accused of scaring carriage horses while wearing a dinosaur costume, the carriage company said it may pursue legal action.

Witnesses alleged in May that Nicole Wells, then 26, of Ashley River Road, was in the Tyrannosaurus rex outfit when she stepped in front of a carriage hauling 16 sightseers on Church Street and growled, according to a police report.

Wells refused to move after being warned she was upsetting the horses, Van Sturgeon, who was operating the carriage, told The Post and Courier at the time.

Sturgeon was thrown to the ground after the carriage jackknifed. He broke his foot after one of the wheels rolled over his right leg, authorities said. None of the other passengers were injured.

Wells was eventually ticketed with a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct and wearing a mask or disguise on a public street, a city code violation. She turned herself in to authorities as police sought the identity of the dinosaur impersonator.

During a hearing Wednesday in Charleston Municipal Court, a city prosecutor opted not to follow through with the case against Wells, who had previously asked for a jury trial. After court let out, prosecutors did not offer rationale behind the decision and referred questions to a city spokesman.

“I have tremendous respect for the system … (but) we’re really disappointed with the decision not to proceed,” said Tommy Doyle, general manager for Palmetto Carriage Works. “Her being dressed up in the costume directly resulted in my driver losing five weeks of work.”

Doyle said he was consulting with an attorney on whether the group will pursue civil action against Wells, but that a decision had not been reached as of Wednesday afternoon.

On the decision to drop the charges against his client, defense attorney Joseph Kaiser cited “productive conversations” with the city prosecutor’s office.

“Obviously, there’s been a lot of interest and a lot of strong opposition about this case,” he said. “And this case was the first step in clearing her name in the things she’s accused of.”

Kaiser did not elaborate on the next steps or whether he would be representing Wells in possible civil litigation.

Reach Michael Majchrowicz at 843-607-1052. Follow him on Twitter @mjmajchrowicz.