An Englishwoman has been killed and an Irish woman seriously injured after a hyperbaric chamber exploded at an equine medical facility in Florida.
Sorcha Moneley was flown by helicopter to the University of Florida hospital in Gainsville and underwent surgery after the accident at a farm in Morriston.
Erica Marshall, a 28-year-old English woman who lived on the farm, died in the accident which also claimed the life of a horse.
Moneley, 33, was also there in the role of an observer as she is interested in bringing the hyperbaric chamber technology to Europe.
According to reports, Moneley told police that the horse was kicking and knocked down protective coating inside the chamber.
The Irish woman told officers that they attempted to shut down the equipment but the horse kicked again and its metal horseshoes ignited a spark.
Marshall, who was trained to use the chamber and had worked at the facility for two years, was killed instantly while Moneley was thrown into the air by the force of the explosion.
“I was just working on the farm over there and the whole ground shook - a big metallic boom. It wasn’t dynamite. It was a big metallic boom,” said neighbor Robert Vickers.
Marion County Fire Rescue officials said the chamber was approximately 10 feet to 12 feet wide and that the explosion sent debris over an area covering at least 1,200 square feet.
Detective Rhonda Stroup said a veterinarian had prescribed hyperbaric treatment for the horse. The animal had been in the chamber at least four other times without incident. She said the male horse was from Stonehall Farm in Virginia.
Hyperbaric chambers are pressurized with oxygen, allowing for high saturations of oxygen in blood. The treatment is used not only to help injuries, but also to aid in recovery after competition.
The center’s Florida website describes the facility as: “a world class equine sports medicine facility, dedicated to the recovery and conditioning of high-end equine athletes.”
The facility has a 100,000-square-foot building that can accommodate up to 75 horses and includes a vertical hyperbaric oxygen chamber, underwater treadmills, hot/cold saltwater spa, indoor 200-foot-diameter swimming pool, one of the nation’s largest indoor synthetic jogging tracks, and a Eurociser.