Tahoe family loses second daughter in riding fall
A North Tahoe family has been struck by the same tragedy twice.Mia Eriksson, a North Tahoe High School senior, died Saturday in a Southern California horse riding competition after she fell from her horse during a jump. Her death comes almost exactly three years after her sister died in a similar equestrian accident.Eriksson, 17, was an upbeat, athletic and caring teen who had lived in North Tahoe since she was a child, her friends said.Mia was an awesome human being, said Justin Casey, a family friend.She danced ballet, rode horses, sailed with her father and skied. Her family owned the Tahoe Meadows Equestrian center just east of Truckee near the California Highway Patrol scales along Interstate 80.The loss of Eriksson left North Tahoe High School in a somber mood on Monday, said Stephanie Welsh, the schools vice principal.The mood at school is absolutely heartbroken, Welsh said. We are devastated.Eriksson had entered the three-day eventing competition in Temecula, Calif., with her 7-year-old gelding, Koryography. The international event drew some of the top competitors in the world, including a world champion medalist.At nearly the halfway mark of the cross-country race, when horses race through a series of obstacles including water and jumps, Eriksson jumped a fence with her horse, fell and was crushed by Koryography, according to published reports.Paramedics rushed to the scene and then transported Eriksson to Rancho Springs Hospital in Temecula, where she died, according to a press release from Galway Downs, where the competition was held.The Riverside County Coroners office had not determined the cause of death on Monday and would not discuss the case.Mias older sister Shana Eriksson, a North Tahoe High School graduate, died in a similar horse riding accident in 2003. A horse she was riding from the stables of the California State University, Fresno campus where she was an equestrian spooked, threw her from the saddle and fell on her, according to Associated Press reports. Shana went into a coma and died three days later.Rob McAuliffe, spokesman for the Galway Downs competition in which Mia Eriksson was riding, said deaths in the sport are very rare. Last year there were no deaths in eventing worldwide, he said. The year before that, two people died participating in the sport, he said.Its a tough sport. It definitely has risk, said McAuliffe, who added that he had spoken with an organizer with 11 years experience in eventing who said he had never seen an accident like this.On the final day of the event, competitors wore blue ribbons with white polka dots to honor Eriksson, said McAuliffe. At the awards ceremony, a moment of silence was held for her, he said.At North Tahoe High, students also fell silent on Monday to remember Eriksson, Welsh said. Counselors were on hand to speak with students about the tragic accident, she said.Cindy Freeman, North Tahoe High secretary, worked with Eriksson nearly every day since the 17 year old worked part-time as an office aide at the school.She was one of the most non-judgmental children I have ever met, Freeman said. She was a ray of sunshine every morning.Penny Burney, a counselor at the school, who also knew Eriksson well, said the students were grieving their beloved friend.The senior class is taking it very hard today, Burney said. They are showing the amount of love they had for Mia.