Numerous cattle killed in collision with semi near causeway

The driver of a semi-truck transporting minerals to a nearby bentonite plant collided with a herd of 110 cattle on Tuesday afternoon on Highway 14A near the causeway east of Lovell, narrowly missing two cowboys on horseback who were driving the herd down the highway.

As of Wednesday morning, at least 16 cattle either died on impact or had to be put down due to severe injuries. A veterinarian was on the scene at press time evaluating whether more cattle would need to be put down.

According to Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn, the cattle (a combination of Angus and long horns) belonged to the nearby McNabb ranch. He said the cowboys had called the “proper authorities” (the highway department) to notify them that they would be moving the cattle from the Crystal Creek area east of the causeway to the Beaver Creek area west of the causeway.

At around 1:30 p.m., Darold Newman and his 11-year-old nephew Trent McNabb were on the highway in the process of moving the cattle when Michael Daniels, 56, allegedly drove at full speed into the herd. Lieutenant Phil Farman of the Wyoming Highway Patrol said investigators estimate that the semi-truck driven by Daniels was travelling at a speed of approximately 65 mph.

Blackburn, who was at the scene shortly after the incident occurred and into the night, said witnesses reported that a number of vehicles had stopped for the cattle on the road and had their hazard lights flashing prior to Daniels approaching with his vehicle. Some told Blackburn that Daniels “blew by them” without slowing down. One witness reported that he appeared to be talking on a cell phone at the time.

Daniels also hit a second vehicle, a 2014 Subaru, which was stopped for the cattle, driven by Robert O’Donnell of Columbia, Md. Farman said he did not know how badly the vehicle was damaged or if O’Donnell was injured.

Daniels was taken by ambulance to North Big Horn Hospital. It was unclear what, if any, injuries he sustained during the accident. Farman said the truck was towed from the scene. He said Daniels was charged with driving too fast for the conditions. He said no other charges were pending that he was aware of.

The grisly scene disrupted traffic traveling in both directions for hours on Highway 14A. Members of the Lovell Fire Department helped funnel traffic through a single lane around the carnage. Blackburn said they also brought water for the surviving cattle, which appeared to be very stressed from the incident. He noted that some of the cows were pregnant. He said many appeared to have broken legs, backs and other serious injuries and had to be shot at the scene.

“I think the Lord looked out for these cowboys today,” said Blackburn. “It was a tragedy for the cattle but a blessing for the cowboys, who could have easily been killed. You can replace cows but you can’t replace people.”

Sheriff’s deputies helped move the remaining cattle off the road. Many worked into the night to help local rancher Ken McNabb and others trying to attend to the cattle that survived.

Blackburn said it was unclear why Daniels didn’t stop like the multiple other vehicles did.

“People here are used to seeing this sort of thing here in Wyoming,” said Blackburn. “Stopping for cattle being moved on the road is normal here. It’s what we do in an open range state.”


By Patti Carpenter

One comment

  1. Hi, A friend forwarded this article to me. Just saw it. My wife and I were on vacation to Yellowstone and were on our way home. She has some interesting photos of the accident as it occurred. Our Subaru sustained over $7K in damage and is still in Wyoming getting repaired. Neither of us were physically hurt but more emotionally traumatized by the accident and all the injuries to the cattle. Having to witness a rancher shoot one of the cattle to put it out of its misery is not something that will leave us anytime soon. Plus it looks like I’ll have the fun of going back out there to get our car at some point.

    We felt extremely sorry for the McNabb family and the loss of their cattle. They appeared to be doing everything correctly and were a bit horror stricken after it occurred. We would like to thank the members of the community; the Sheriff’s Dept., Highway Patrol, the wonderful folks at Western Collision repair shop, and the numerous members of the Lovell Fire Dept. for all doing an outstanding job. The company we work for designs a lot of training for emergency responders so to see these folks in action doing a great job was very interesting. Additionally, Thrifty car rental at the Cody airport should be proud to have such a wonderful employee as Brittany. She played a key part in helping us get home. Many, many thanks from us. All of these folks gave us some comfort during a very traumatic event and made us feel like we were in good hands. Kudos to all.

    Bob & Priscilla O’Donnell

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