Dozens of cows roamed free on Atlanta interstates Monday after a tractor-trailer hauling them overturned, setting off a nearly 16-hour roundup effort through two metro counties.
The truck was carrying 89 calves from Florida to northwest Georgia when it tipped over on the I-285 East ramp at the I-75 interchange in Cobb County. Some of the animals were trapped in the truck, while dozens more spilled onto the interstate.
Several were hit by drivers coming around the curve of the exit ramp, according to authorities.
Eleven cows were killed. Sandy Springs police originally said they captured the final loose cow just after 4:15 p.m. on I-285, but police were still searching for it at 6:30 p.m. It reportedly jumped over the side of the road and into the woods.
Around 8 p.m., Sandy Springs police spokesman Sgt. Sam Worsham told AJC.com that authorities had captured the elusive last calf in a creek bed near Ray’s on the River, which is on Powers Ferry Road.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was taken to an area hospital with injuries. The condition of the driver was not known Monday afternoon.
At one point, all lanes of the I-285 Inner Loop were shut down, the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center reported. Lanes started reopening about 5:50 a.m. By 6:20 a.m., all lanes were cleared, but the ramp was not reopened until 1:30 p.m.
The cattle will be transported to a facility in Calhoun, Cobb police Sgt. Wayne Delk said.
During the height of the hoopla, Sandy Springs police told Channel 2 Action News as many as 70 cows could be roaming the area of the Chattahoochee River. Drivers on their way to work were reporting cow sightings along I-285 and I-75 in Cobb and Fulton counties.
Some proved difficult to contain. One of the cows made it to I-75 North at Cumberland Boulevard, where it charged at teams trying to corral it in a construction zone, the news station reported. One man was trampled when the cow bolted. It is not clear if he sustained injuries.
Another two cows were spotted by officers at a SunTrust bank branch on I-285 and New Northside Drive, according to Channel 2.
Local ranchers on horseback volunteered to help with the roundup.
“We are trying to corral them as best we can,” Delk told AJC.com during the effort. “If we can’t corral them, at least keep an eye on them and keep them in sights until they can be picked up.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation was handling bovine transport. Crews with Cobb County fire and GDOT used a saw to cut through the wreckage and free the cows still trapped on the truck.
The cows were then herded onto vehicles to be removed from the crash site. It was not known if any of the trapped cows were injured.
The 10-hour cleanup turned the Westside Perimeter into a parking lot during the Monday morning commute and caused major delays through the lunchtime drive.
Authorities are still looking into the cause of the crash. After a preliminary investigation, it does not appear speed was a factor, Delk said.
This is not the first time a truck spilled its bovine cargo on Atlanta interstates. In May, a tractor-trailer hit a sound barrier on I-75 North near Kennesaw, shutting down the interstate for hours and killing 10 cows.
One month later, three cows were killed and dozens others were trapped in a crash on the ramp from I-285 South to I-20 East in DeKalb County.
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