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By Charlie Pearl and Molly Haines
Kentucky News Content Service, News-Herald staff
About 15 cattle died and 75 were rescued in a double-decker tractor-trailer accident on U.S. 127 North in Franklin County near the Peaks Mill Road intersection Wednesday night.
The driver, David Evans, 48, of Burnside, sustained minor injuries but refused medical treatment, said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton.
“He had some minor scrapes and bruises,” Melton said.
In the one-vehicle accident about 8:30 p.m., Evans was southbound, “coming from the Owen County stock yards and the trailer was loaded with 88 to 92 cattle,” Melton said.
“He lost control coming down the hill, right in front of a church. The trailer swung around and started to jackknife, flipping and skidding on its side about 50 yards.
“Being a double-decker trailer made it a challenge getting to the animals and getting them out,” Melton said.
Franklin County Fire Chief Gary Watts said, “The poor things were scared to death. I feel like more of them will have to be euthanized.”
The dead animals were taken to the landfill on KY 151.
The wreckage stretched across U.S. 127, and the highway was closed for six hours.
“It was a mess, but farmers of this community were great along with all the other people that helped,” Melton said. “A large animal rescue team out of Lawrenceburg and Jessamine County with veterinarians came and brought several pieces of equipment.
“Local farmers brought gooseneck trailers, gates, fencing and helped haul the surviving animals back to the Owen County stock yards. County and state road department crews helped haul off deceased animals.
“Franklin County and Frankfort fire departments responded along with city and county emergency management and Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement. Folks from the Owen County stock yards came down to help, too.
“Everybody who came to help out was absolutely awesome,” Melton said.
Greg Evans, who works at United Producers Inc. stock yards in Owen County, said about six or seven people from the stockyard were sent to Franklin County to help.
“We took trailers up there to haul them and assisted in getting them out of the trailer,” Evans said. “It was kind of what we expected. They were piled on top of each other.”
Evans said an accident like the one in Franklin County is not altogether uncommon.
“I haven’t seen it necessarily around here, but it does happen,” Evans said.
Melton said it was fortunate no one was coming up the hill on U.S. 127 in the curve when the accident occurred.
“It would have been awful,” he said. “We think speed definitely played a factor in the crash.”
Melton said Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement cited Evans on two “log book violations.”
The 1997 Freightliner truck Evans drove was registered to Anderson Farms of Pulaski County, Melton said.