State troopers responded to the scene, Highway 3 near the intersection with Big Valley Road, at about 3 a.m. Friday after receiving a report of a collision.
Three horses were found dead on the highway. A fourth was was taken to a local veterinary hospital with serious injuries.
A preliminary investigation found that a 1985 Peterbilt semi tractor was heading north on Highway 3 toward the Hood Canal Bridge when the four horses appeared in his headlights as they wandered across the highway.
The semi driver was unable to stop in time and struck all four horses.
The 27-year-old truck driver told gas station clerk Russ Poynor, "they just went right out in the middle of the road." And he couldn't stop. Poynor quoted the driver, "He was doing like 50-55 mph and there's no way he can stop a big rig like that."
The surviving horse was rushed to Sound Equine Hospital in Poulsbo. "Presently he's doing great," said Tami Kelly of the hospital. "He has a good prognosis."
The horse suffered cuts and scraps, but is otherwise okay. "He's very fortunate that he didn't have the same outcome that they did," said Kelly, "so he's kind of a miracle."
The horse's owners declined to be interviewed, but are devastated and told the vet clinic they don't know how their gate got open.
The 27-year-old semi driver will not be charged. He was unhurt, but the semi tractor sustained some damage in the crash.