Two Charged After Their Horse was Struck and Killed by a Vehicle in Hillsborough County
At approximately 5:30 a.m., on November 26, 2017, deputies responded to a traffic crash with injuries in front of 17532 County Road 672 (just west of CR39) in Lithia.
When deputies arrived, the driver reported his vehicle struck a loose horse that ran into the roadway. The driver suffered minor injuries and declined medical attention at the scene. The vehicle was heavily damaged and the horse was deceased in the roadway.
During the investigation, deputies immediately realized this was the same location they responded to on November 25th in reference to a report of a loose horse.
During that call, deputies warned the property owners James Kickliter and Hazel Soape, that their fencing/gates had to be properly maintained/repaired for the safety of the horses and passing motorists or they may be the subjects of future criminal/civil action(s).
During today’s traffic crash incident, Kickliter and Soape advised the investigating deputies they did not have time to deal with the fencing/gate issues or to take some other responsible measures to ensure the horses were safely secured. The horse that died this morning was the same horse that got loose the day before and returned to Kickliter.
Deputies contacted detectives with the HCSO Agricultural Crimes Unit of the Homeland Security Division who responded to assist with the investigation and impound a second horse that could not be safely secured on the property due to inadequate fencing/stalls that were in disrepair. As result of this investigation, 53 year-old Michael Kickliter was arrested and charged with Aggravated Animal Cruelty and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.
Criminal charges for Aggravated Animal Cruelty were direct filed with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office against 49 year-old Hazel Soape, who is the live-in girlfriend of Kickliter.
The deceased horse was removed by Hillsborough County Public Works personnel. The impounded horse will receive a medical evaluation from a licensed equine veterinarian.