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Semi driver passed deputy, crashed into cattle moving across foggy highway, sheriff says

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A crash that led to the deaths of four cows happened after a semi driver passed a sheriff’s deputy trying to stop traffic on a Kansas highway as a rancher moved his cattle through fog, officials said.

The crash happened at around 10:50 a.m. Tuesday on Kansas Highway 61 in rural Reno County after deputies had discouraged the rancher from moving the cattle until after the fog had cleared up, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

“Local ranchers often move cattle from one pasture to another to allow them to graze and sometimes this crosses public roadways,” sheriff’s Capt. Steve Lutz said in the release. “Early this morning the rancher contacted our agency and told us they were going to move the cattle at this location and wanted our assistance.

“They said they were planning on moving them around 11 a.m., however (they) would wait some for the fog to clear up. Deputies had contacted the rancher a couple of times trying to discourage the movement until the fog was totally clear.”

The rancher apparently ignored the advice and started moving the cattle before 11 a.m., according to the news release.

When deputies at around 10:50 a.m. arrived to the area of K-61 and Fairview Road, about a mile northeast of Arlington, there were already about 200 head of cattle moving north on Fairview toward the highway, the sheriff’s office said.

“At this time, deputies turned on their emergency lights and attempted to stop traffic on K-61 while the cattle moved across the road,” Lutz said. “While northbound traffic had stopped, a southbound vehicle went past one of the deputies, missing the cattle. However, a second vehicle, a semi hauling cattle, passed the same deputy and collided with several cattle on the roadway.”

The area where the crash happened is close to the Ninnescah River and likely had thicker fog than other areas along the highway, Lutz told The Eagle.

The driver of the semi was not injured, but his vehicle was disabled. The owner of the cattle reported that four cows were killed. The sheriff’s office did not identify either the driver or the rancher.

Lutz told The Eagle that no arrests have occurred and no notices to appear have been issued as the case is still under review.



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Jason Tidd is a reporter at The Wichita Eagle covering breaking news, crime and courts.


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