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After a tractor-trailer crash, firefighters spend 3 hours rounding up nearly 100 cattle

Firefighters from Union and Centre counties assist with a tractor trailer crash that killed some of the nearly 100 cattle it was carrying.
Firefighters from Union and Centre counties assist with a tractor trailer crash that killed some of the nearly 100 cattle it was carrying. Photo Provided

A tractor-trailer carrying nearly 100 young cattle from a farm in Aaronsburg overturned Tuesday night in Union County, killing several cattle, and causing moderate injuries for the driver.

Just before 8 p.m., fire companies from Union County — Mifflinburg Hose Company and Union County West End Fire Company — were dispatched to an overturned tractor-trailer with entrapment on state Route 45, just east of the Centre County line in Hartley Township.

A fire chief from the West End Fire Company found a tractor-trailer overturned down a 25-foot embankment, according to a Facebook post from the Mifflinburg Hose Company. The driver, who suffered moderate injuries and was transported by ambulance from the scene, extricated himself from the cab’s wreckage, said the post.

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In addition to Mifflinburg Hose and West End, New Berlin Fire Department and William Cameron Engine Company from Union County and Millheim and Miles Township fire companies from Centre County responded to the scene.

Floyd Etters, first assistant chief of the Millheim Fire Company, said he arrived shortly after 8 p.m.

“There was cattle trapped inside the trailer because it was a double-decker trailer and there was cows scattered throughout the woods that we had to round up,” he said.

Some of the 97 cattle were dead when he arrived at the scene, he said, but he didn’t have a good estimate of how many died overall. He said the tractor-trailer driver was lucky to escape with only moderate injuries.

“I’ve never seen a cab smashed that bad and somebody survived,” he said.

Also assisting in the rescue efforts were two heavy wreckers from Keller’s Auto Body in Selinsgrove, Snyder County, many farmers from Centre and Union counties with trailers, several ATVs and four wheelers, state police and PennDOT, according to the Facebook post.

Etters said one of the fire chiefs on the scene estimated there were about 50-75 firefighters from both counties and 100 people total on scene. Some members of the Centre Hall Fire Company who were driving by came to help, he said.

“They were just driving by, had their gear and equipment with them,” he said. “That’s just the way we are. Even if we’re out of county.”

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Fire department crews were on the scene for about three hours, while firefighters worked to extricate cattle from the trailer and stabilize the vehicle. West End Fire Company’s rescue used its winch to secure the trailer and contain fluid, said the Facebook post.

A Facebook post from West End Fire Company said there were units on the scene until early Wednesday morning.

Farmers and other locals used about six trailers to haul the surviving cows to sale barns in Centre Hall and Mifflinburg, said Etters.

“Everybody, even though we’re from different counties and stuff, worked very well together,” he said.

The cause of the crash is unknown and state police at Milton said it will release its report in the next few days.

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