Interstate 70 eastbound saw traffic backed up for more than a mile on Thanksgiving morning after a semi-tractor trailer hauling cattle overturned on its side.
Jason T. Buttenhoff, Chapman, was driving a 2000 Peterbilt eastbound near milepost 151 about 7:45 a.m. Thursday when his semi drifted across the left lane and into the grassy median that separates east and west bound traffic.
The semi came to rest on its left side about .6 miles west of the Yocemento Avenue Exit 153, according to the accident report from the Kansas Highway Patrol. No other vehicles were involved.
Categorized an injury accident, Buttenhoff was taken by ambulance to Hays Medical Center. His condition wasn’t known.
The trailer didn’t break open, said Bill Ring, director of Ellis County Public Works. Area farmers — Steve Homburg and Gary Kohl, both from Ellis, and Glen and Derrick Unrein and Ellis County Commissioner Dean Haselhorst — were some of those who brought in cattle panels to transfer the livestock out, Ring said.
The process took several hours Thursday morning, with traffic slowed while officers from the KHP and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office worked the accident.
The cattle that survived the crash, 71 head, were taken to the former Hays Livestock Market Center on U.S. Highway 183 north of Hays.
“They called and wanted to know if I’d yard them and I said ‘yep,’” said the market center’s owner, Ellis County farmer Lester Gross. “They were all brought here. They’re going to be fine.”
Gross was asked to feed and water the cattle, which were set to load out Saturday morning for hauling to Nebraska. Most were black calves weighing around 500 pounds, Gross said.
“They were nice cattle,” he said.
Cattle that were killed in the accident were hauled in the damaged trailer by Augie’s Repair & Towing L.L.C., Hays, Ring said. They were also set to be hauled over the weekend to a rendering plant in Nebraska.