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Saturday, March 24, 2018

A survivor of the cattle trailer turnover on the Circle highway lies in the mud near the Airport Road turnoff as Montana Highway Patrol and Department of Transporation employees work to rescue the cattle.Dawson County Rural firefighters work to move cattle from the overturned livestock trailer in the early morning hours Thursday. The driver of the semi-truck fell asleep at the wheel just west of Glendive on Highway 200S.

Several cows perish in accident (slideshow)

By Anthony Varriano

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

A man driving cattle to slaughter from Great Falls to Minnesota fell asleep at the wheel Thursday on Montana Highway 200S and rolled a stock trailer filled with 43 head of cattle into the north ditch near Airport Road approach

 The accident happened around 2 or 2:30 a.m.

The driver reportedly sustained no serious injuries, but the same couldn’t be said about the cattle.

By 8:30 a.m. there was a flatbed of seven dead cows sitting in the Gibbs Equipment parking lot and a stock trailer at the scene was nearly full of survivors, but many of the cows had trouble walking and were lifted by a Bobcat to a trailer across the highway.

Montana Highway Patrol, Dawson County Sheriff’s Department and the Dawson County Rural Fire Department assisted the Department of Transportation in rescuing cattle and managing traffic. The accident turned the Circle Highway into one lane until nearly noon.

“We were on the scene at 4:30 (a.m.) to run traffic control and keep the road open to emergency services,” Glendive Department of Transportation Director Shane Mintz said, adding, “We were done by noon.”

The rescuers cut holes into the turned-over trailer to free the animals and by 9 a.m. they were freeing the cows in the front of the trailer. 

“When we got on scene we had dispatch get in touch with the livestock inspector, and he lined up some stock trailers,” Dawson County Rural Assistant Fire Chief Richie Crisafulli said. 

The number of cows that survived the crash is unknown. 

“We brought out some dead ones, we brought some out that were having trouble walking and some walked out on their own,” Crisafulli said.

He did not know where all of the cattle were taken after the accident. 

“One of the neighbors in the area had some property and allowed us to take some of the cattle there,” he added.

According to Dawson County Extension Agent Bruce Smith, cattle must arrive alive to be slaughtered, and those that died in the crash will be buried. Those that were injured can be processed.

Undersheriff Rich Rowe added that “the driver fell asleep,” and that was the leading factor in the crash. The identity of the driver was unknown at the time of publication, and citations had not yet been filed.

Anthony Varriano can be contacted at rrwriter@rangerreview.com.

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