Thousands of Florida drivers experienced a bizarre traffic jam today as they waited for police to remove a herd of cows from the Florida Turnpike in Osceola County.
The incident began around 11:30 a.m. According to Lt. Tara Crescenzi, a 47-year-old cattle hauler from Alabama was transporting around 70 cows when the semi-cab caught fire. The driver immediately pulled onto the shoulder, exited the truck, and freed the herd.
Luckily, all the cows escaped the flames. And the driver also walked away uninjured. However, mid-day commuters were not as fortunate. Once the animals we safely outside the trailer, they headed across the southbound lanes in Saint Cloud. And there they remained for hours.
Fire crews were able to push through the livestock to extinguish the fire. And a towing crew also managed to pull the wreckage off the highway. But cars backed up for 30 miles as authorities struggled to wrangle grazing strays along the roadways.
Once officers removed the bulk of the bovine from the turnpike, they opened southbound lanes. But officials continued to reroute the northbound lanes through Yeehaw Junction as mounted officers searched “for any loose cattle” that may have wandered into nearby woods.
As of 4:30 pm, most of the traffic flow has been restored. And News 6 in Orlando reports that only one cow remains at large.
Cows Flood Illinois Highway After Cattle Hauler Trailer Rips Open in Crash
Today’s event isn’t the first cattle-induced traffic jam of the year. In April, a similar story broke headlines after a multi-car accident caused a cattle hauler to rip apart and let 16 cows loose on an Illinois highway. The trailer was carrying 33 cattle at the time.
State Police said the hauler veered off the road and struck a disabled semi-trailer and then crashed into a Honda coupe on Interstate 80 approximately 40 miles outside of Chicago. In total, authorities kept eastbound lanes closed for nearly six hours.
The hauler driver, 51-year-old Bradley E. Pate of Waynesboro, Virginia, went to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. And an 82-year-old man also suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Two cows died as a result of the crash. And a veterinarian euthanized two others, according to police.
Local residents and farmers on horseback aided the police in rounding up the remaining cows. And a driver safely transported those animals to a nearby ranch.
Police charged Pate with driving under the influence of drugs. And they also issued him several citations.