Turkeys Slowly Die for Hours Following Tractor Trailer Wreck

Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: R.J. Burnette

Ridgeway, VA - SPCA volunteers say it was a very upsetting scene after a truck carrying hundreds of turkeys overturned on Rt. 220 in Henry County Thursday morning and stayed there for hours.

The driver was headed from North Carolina to Harrisonburg. Only 60 of an originally estimated 600 turkeys are still alive. No one was even notified that this had happened. When the SPCA arrived, they did what little they could.

"I don't care if these animals were on the way to the slaughter house, I don't care. They don't need to die out here slowly on the side of the road," said Leslie Hervey, the executive director of the Martinsville/Henry County SPCA.

"The smell accosted us the minute we got out of the car, it was horrendous," said Carol Berlauk, an SPCA volunteer.

"Just imagine if you were in a wreck, and you laid there for four and a half hours and you got no help, and that's what these animals are going through. This should not happen in today's society, it should not happen," said Hervey.

The driver of a tractor trailer who flipped his tractor trailer on Rt. 220 survived. But for hours, his cargo, an estimated 600 turkeys, were left smoldering in the sun.

ABC 13 called the Henry County SPCA, which rushed to the scene with animal control and rescued those they could. But as the day went on, slowly one by one, the turkeys began to go.

"They've been here since 7 o'clock. They are dying from heat exhaustion, nothing more. So, most of the animals are alive in there and they need to be retrieved. All animals deserve to die in a humane manner and this is not humane," said Hervey.

The owners of the turkeys, Circle S. Ranch from Monroe, North Carolina showed up five hours later. Their tactics were hardly the same.

"The one guy, he threw one turkey in and it fell out and the other dude just picks it up and throws it back in. I mean, I know they're going to be killed eventually, but it's just not humane to do it like that," said Chad Clark, an SPCA volunteer.

And so cheers turned to tears. And hours later, a small fraction of what was living in this truck came out alive.

"I know these are meant for the dinner table. But normally, they don't go through five hours of suffering before they die," said Berlauk.

State police say the 45-year-old truck driver was charged with reckless driving. As for the surviving turkeys, they continued on their original route.

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