Monday, 23 January 2017 06:33

Cattle Truck Crash Causes Havoc on Highway 78

37 Heifers Die in Crash South of Blythe


FRIDAY, JAN. 20, 2016 – Animal control officers responded to a cattle-truck crash south of Blythe on Thursday (Jan. 19) and helped round up injured and a few loose heifers.

The crash happened at about 11:30 a.m. on Highway 78, near Ludy Boulevard, in an area south of the Blythe city limits. Thirty-seven cattle died in the wreck.

“It was probably the worst I’ve seen,” said Lt. Oliver White, an officer based out of Riverside County Animal Services’ Blythe Animal Shelter. “We’ve never dealt with a cow truck accident – something I’ve been saying for 10 years – but knew was bound to happen. It was just a matter when, because so many cows come through here.”

California Highway Patrol responded to the wreck first. Then a call went in to Riverside County Animal Services and Lt. White and officer Justin Mays arrived to assist. According to the CHP incident log, the truck had overturned. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the CHP.

Lt. White used his personal livestock corrals – more than 100 temporary corrals were brought to the scene – to help make it easier to move the cattle from the overturned truck to the county’s trailers. That proved to be very lengthy and tiring for all involved.

“Digging out the cattle was the hardest part,” Lt. White said. “They didn’t just walk out. They didn’t get up. They were all worn out.”

But the community spirit in the Blythe area is big, he said. “Thank God for friends,” Lt. White said. “When word got out about the crash, a lot of people dropped what they were doing and came out to help. A lot of my friends and locals showed up. I owe a lot of buddies some beers.”

In fact, Officer Mays was scheduled to be off on Thursday, but responded to Lt. White’s call for help right away.

The cattle were described as 400- to 500-pound dairy replacement heifers. The truck was loaded with 138 earlier in the morning. The owner of the hauling company handled the pickup and removal of the dead cattle.

“We’re very fortunate to have someone with Oliver’s and Justin’s skills when something of this magnitude happens,” Riverside County Commander Chris Mayer said. “The Blythe Animal Shelter crew are the true cowboys in our department. They’re invaluable.”

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