Cows scatter on I-10 after semi overturns

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Roadway reopens 12 hours after rollover wreck kills dozens of cows, critically injures driver

Staff report

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Interstate 10 reopened late Friday morning after emergency crews wrapped up their efforts to round up dozens of cows that escaped from an overturned semitrailer Thursday night.

The road was closed in both directions for 12 hours.

The driver of the semi, 65-year-old Mark Lindsey of Dade City, was taken by helicopter to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center in critical condition following the 11:15 p.m. wreck, according to a media release from the Florida Highway Patrol.

Lindsey’s westbound rig carrying 149 yearling cows veered onto the median about six miles west of DeFuniak Springs. The truck overturned and 40 cows escaped, the FHP reported.

Multiple agencies, including Alaqua Animal Refuge and the Walton County Animal Shelter, came to the scene along with good Samaritans to try to round up the yearlings, according to Corey Dobridnia, spokeswoman for the the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

Some of the cows caused more wrecks on I-10, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

FHP spokesman Eddie Elmore said 32 cows had died in the the wreck. Eight cows were still missing as of 11 a.m.

The surviving cows are being held at the Pleasant Ridge Arena in DeFuniak Springs.

Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua Animal Refuge, said she and a veterinarian put down the cows that were hit by cars.

“We were just putting the ones who were suffering out of their misery,” Hood said. “The crews picked up about 12 deceased cows from the interstate. After that, we headed to the trailer.”

Hood said 40 to 50 cows were barricaded inside of the trailer so they wouldn’t run away. Crews worked to build a makeshift pen for the animals to escape into while Hood said her team dragged dead cows out of the trailer to clear a path for the live ones.

“There were 21 cows in the trailer that were deceased,” she said. “The sheer numbers of this was the most gruesome scene I’ve ever seen. We had to step on dead cows to get the live ones out.”

Hood said the cows will soon be picked up from DeFuniak to continue on their journey to a Texas slaughterhouse.

“Even after everything they’ve been through they will still be brought to a lot for slaughter,” Hood said.

Check back at nwfdailynews.com for more details as they become available.

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