By Karen Blackledge
DANVILLE — Freedom for two Herefords darting along Route 11, Mahoning Creek and the Danville Middle School grounds was short-lived when they were shot Tuesday by police.
Danville Sgt. Bill Wilt said he and cows’ owner made the decision to shoot them after the larger of the two cows “dumped” the owner while he, police and others were trying to corral them into gates set up as a portable pen.
“The cow broke the metal gate and for safety reasons we made the decision. It isn’t one we wanted to make. It was the last resort,” Sgt. Wilt said. He added the cow may have injured the owner who is from a Catawissa farm.
The ordeal, which lasted an hour and a half starting at about 10:30 a.m. on a chilly and windy day, began when the trailer carrying the two cows somehow popped open near Routes 11 and 54. The farm employee driving the truck hauling the black trailer said he hadn’t noticed it until a woman motioned to him.
Paul Peifer, who owns nearby Paul’s Citgo on Route 11, said he thought a cow may have fallen in the trailer, resulting in the door opening.
The farm employee, reportedly with the first name of Andy who didn’t want to be identified, said he may have hit a bump in the road.
“I had one in the trailer almost but she ran out,” he said. The larger cow was black with a white face and the smaller one was red and white.
He was headed to the Middleburg Auction with the animals.
The cows darted more than once into traffic along Route 11 and across from the middle school. They spent a lot of time on both sides of the floodwall along Mahoning Creek, which borders Continental Boulevard.
Police from Danville, Mahoning Township and Riverside who initially arrived waited for the farm owner to bring portable gates from Catawissa. The farm owner refused to comment or identify himself. Among those assisting were Mahoning Township Police Chief Dave Shope and Steve Watkins of Riverside police.
After the gates were set up along the floodwall access, police, personnel from the Montour County Sheriff’s Department and others tried numerous times to drive the animals into the portable pen that had been set up.
The cows appeared calm at some times and were on the move running through the water, over embankments and through the school grounds at other times.
A borough employee had to open the gate along the gate to the floodwall so the truck and trailer and truck with the gates could back down alongside the creek.
The cows more than once ran through the creek and through the school grounds with some people, with sticks and attempting to control them, getting close to the large animals.
The larger black cow galloped more frequently onto Route 11 than her companion and then darted back to the creek area.
At one point, there was a suggestion made about summoning a firetruck with long ropes to try to lasso the animals.
Danville Police Officer Jerry Zeidler, who was one of the first officers on the scene, downed the cows with a shotgun.
The incident drew about 25 people including some students.
Sgt. Wilt said this wasn’t the first they had farm animals loose in the borough. About eight years ago, there were bulls loose on Mill Street. “They fell off a trailer on Continental Boulevard. We ended up tying them on lamp poles. They destroyed cars,” he said.
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