A truckload of cattle nearly crashed into the Snake River near Pasco during Monday’s snowstorm when a trucker tried to avoid hitting a car that turned in front of him.
The semi driver was hauling the cattle from Canada to the Tyson meat packing plant in Wallula.
As he neared the Highway 12 twin bridges about 4:45 p.m., a white Chevy Cruze heading the opposite direction tried to turn left in front of him toward Sacajawea Park Road, said Pasco police on their Facebook page.
If the road had been clear, police said the car would have had plenty of time to make the turn, but the snowy road put the car into the semi’s path.
The truck’s driver reacted by pulling into the median, sending his truck on a course toward the river near Burbank.
The truck headed down the steep embankment and bumped hard on the railroad tracks and stopped with his bumper hanging over the river bank.
Pasco police investigated since Washington State Patrol troopers were over their head handling highway collisions.
The cows ended up spending the night in the trailer before they could be corralled into another truck because a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector had to be present before the trailer could be opened.
“Since they were from Canada and had been inspected at the border, the trailer had been sealed by the USDA,” Pasco police explained. “After that, the cows were sort-of herded up the embankment to another truck to finish their journey to Tyson Foods.”
The driver of the Cruze may be ticketed, said the Pasco post.
The Washington state Department of Ecology arrived Tuesday morning to check on the diesel that spilled from the two “saddle” tanks that ruptured. The tanks can hold a maximum of 140 gallons.
A slight sheen can be seen in the river, said state officials. An oil containment boom was placed in the water and the soil on the bank will be dug up and removed.