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Drivers along Interstate 64 westbound on Sunday morning came upon an unusual and disturbing sight: A tractor trailer carrying 80 cows overturned, leaving many of the animals wandering loose and closing the highway for several hours.
Shelby County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Murray said deputies closed the roadway and also helped to round up the cattle, with the help of Kentucky State Police as well as some local farmers who they called to the scene for assistance.
Firefighters and officials of Shelby County Animal Control also were on the scene, working together to free the trapped animals and get them rounded up, Shelby County Fire Chief Bobby Cowherd said.
“We used our extrication equipment to remove part of a ramp door, and then we made a kind of a corral with some fencing that animal control brought to get them rounded up,” he said.
Bradley King, animal control supervisor, said he brought the corral panels to form a pen to put the animals in.
“Everything went very smooth after we got the pen set up,” he said.
Murray said that the scene looked a lot worse than it turned out to be.
“We thought at first that there were going to be eight [put] down, but after we got them all off loaded, it was looking like there was only one that was going to have to be put down,” he said.
Of the nine that escaped the confines of the trailer, only two remain at large, King said.
“Everyone worked very well together; the only thing was, two heifers climbed the hill and headed down Hooper Station,” he said. “They are still at large.”
The heifers are described as solid black with yellow tags in their ears.
Murray said the cause of the single-vehicle accident, which happened at Mile Marker 38, is going to be listed as driver inattention by the rig’s driver, Gary Mullins, 37, of Nora, Va.
“He [driver] said he was reaching over into the glove box to get a pack of cigarettes out, and when he came back up, he veered off the road and overcorrected,” Murray said. “When he did, it shifted the load, which caused the truck to turn over.”
Sheriff Mike Armstrong said it could have been much worse if the truck had collided with another vehicle. “He was very lucky,” he said.
The interstate was shut down until mid-afternoon on Sunday.
Murray said the cattle truck was headed to St. Louis to a feed farm. The cows were taken to a stockyard in Lexington.
Murray said that though Mullins has incurred no charges in the incident, that could change if toxicology results show he had been driving under the influence.
“He was taken to the hospital for a drug test,” Murray said.
King said it was not his first time responding to such an incident.
“A couple of years ago, we had a very similar incident with a truck carrying about sixty hogs, and almost in the same spot,” he said.
If anyone spots the stray cows, he or she should contact animal control at 633-0009 or, after hours, Shelby County Dispatch at 633-2323.