Don Matthews, 55, was headed north on Interstate 294 this morning when he saw something black falling -- as if in slow motion, he said -- from the overpass ahead.
As he got closer, he saw that the dark shapes, five or six that ended up on either side of the center lane of traffic, were cattle. As he drove by, one animal to the left of the car raised its head.
On the overpass, he could see that a semitrailer had partially tipped over, and “it looked like the top of the trailer had kind of peeled open.”
“It was quite a sight,” Matthews said. “It was kind of a surreal thing.”
But it was very real. A truck carrying 36 head of cattle tipped over on Interstate 80 near Hazel Crest, sending some of the animals tumbling off an overpass.
The accident happened at 11:15 a.m. near the I-294 interchange, resulting in 16 head of cattle being killed while others roamed near the scene, Illinois State Police ChicagoDistrict Sgt. Anthony Ostrowski.
Cook County animal control officials were called to pick up the remaining cattle, and officials were called to pick up the carcasses of several of the cattle, police said.
The ramp was reopened at 7:15 p.m., Ostrowski said.
Several of the animals fell 20 to 25 feet from the I-80 eastbound ramp and landed on the southbound portion of I-294, police said. Several vehicles struck the carcasses, leaving one motorist with minor injuries, police said.
The surviving 22 cows were taken to a farm in Peotone, Ostrowski said.
The truck driver lost control of the rig and it struck a wall before flipping on its side, the sargeant said.
The driver, who was not injured, was cited with driving too fast for conditions, Ostrowski said.
The driver's name was unavailable.