cow-tastrophe

Hit-and-run driver clips cattle carrier, shuts down interstate

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Two head of cattle were killed last week when a reckless driver reportedly veered into a big rig, locked bumpers and wrenched away, ultimately tipping the larger vehicle and its livestock trailer to shut down Interstate 20 for hours.

There were more than 60 cattle inside the trailer – the vast majority were removed from the trailer and transported elsewhere without incident, but a handful escaped briefly and had to be recaptured.

Kilgore investigators are eager for any leads after the hit-and-run Friday afternoon: they’re on the lookout for a white work-truck with black-and-gold pinstriping and damage to front driver’s side.

“I would think it would have to be some kind of a company truck,” Kilgore Police Department Det. Trae Portwood said. Early tips haven’t turned up the offending vehicle from nearby businesses with similar designs.

The incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. in I-20’s westbound lane between mile markers 588 and 589, ultimately bringing traffic to a complete standstill more than two solid hours midway between the Hwy. 31 and Hwy. 42 interchanges. Total clean-up lasted more than four hours as traffic was diverted off the interstate, clogging surrounding roadways.

Driver Kevin Dial’s rig and cattle trailer were bound from Livingston, Alabama, to Garden City, Kansas – another westbound pickup veered into his lane and struck the rig, Portwood said.

“Probably just wasn’t paying attention,” he added. “Their bumpers actually locked. The truck was actually stuck to the big rig for a second.”

As the two drivers barreled forward, they wrenched their vehicles apart.

“That caused the cattle trailer to enter the median and turn on its side. The other vehicle fled the scene.”

Most of the cattle were trapped in the trailer, two women helping Dial keep the animals inside until help arrived.

“We had six or seven head that escaped on the interstate, and they were able to capture them,” Portwood said.

KPD Sgt. Jarod Sears called specialized assistance to the scene: Longview Livestock recruited Kenny Turlington and his crew, who arrived with more livestock trailers.

“They were able to offload the cattle before they turned the trailer back over,” Portwood noted, and the remaining animals were transported to the Longview Livestock Commission for holding. Keeping as much traffic moving as possible with assistance from other agencies, nevertheless “We had the interstate completely shutdown for two hours,” ultimately clearing the scene at 7:52 p.m.

Dial was not injured in the wreck, but it’s still going to be a long recovery, he said Tuesday.

“I’m left stuck with the bill,” he said. “I’ve never had to deal with this – somebody just run-off. It’s been like a nightmare really.

“It’s the world we live in, I reckon. It is what is – I’ll live for another day.”

Anyone with additional information on the incident (particularly, any leads on a front-damaged white pickup with black-and-gold pinstriping and lettering) is asked to contact Portwood at 903-218-6905. Tips can be submitted anonymously through Gregg County Crimestoppers (1-800-236-STOP) or Tip411.

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