HUNTINGTON — A tractor-trailer full of cattle overturned on the westbound side of Interstate 64 on Thursday afternoon, ultimately closing the highway in both directions for several hours.
The truck, which landed sideways in the median of the interstate, was heavily damaged in the crash, but the driver was removed from the cab of the tractor-trailer with only minor injuries.
Emergency crews responded to the call just before 3 p.m. Thursday, and Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader said the driver had a foot pinned but was conscious and stable until he was removed nearly two hours later.
Rader said the entrapment was only one aspect of the crash that fire, EMS and police and other crews had to deal with.
“We had to secure animals that were running around the scene, we have some animals that are deceased in the trailer, and we have some that are beyond salvageable that we will have to deal with as well,” Rader said.
Some cattle fled the scene, taking the bridge to nearby Lawrence County, Ohio, but around 10 were corralled and loaded into trailers by other cattle haulers that were called in by dispatchers. Many cattle were still trapped, even hours after the crash occurred.
The driver, who was trapped for nearly two hours in the overturned truck, was pulled out of the cab of the tractor-trailer around 4:40 p.m.
Rader said after the driver was free, crews focused their efforts on cleaning up between 50 and 100 gallons of spilled diesel fuel and then would work on removing dead or injured cattle.
Rader said the cleanup would take crews several hours, but she was hopeful that at least one lane on each side of the interstate would be opened early Thursday evening.
“As soon as we can, we will open up one lane each way, but right now it isn’t safe with so many first responders on the scene,” said Rader.
It marks the second time this week that cattle have been loose on West Virginia roadways.
Trains had to be stopped along a stretch in Bluefield as authorities tried to coax three cows off railroad tracks Monday evening.
Bluefield police used a livestock trailer to try to corral the cows. The cows broke away at one point before being herded back toward the trailer. Onlookers snapped photos and videos of the cows from across the tracks near Bluefield State College.