Smithfield, N.C. — A wreck involving three cows, a tractor-trailer and two other vehicles tied up traffic on Interstate 95 South in Johnston County for several hours Thursday night.
Authorities closed both lanes immediately after the wreck, around 4:30 p.m., causing major traffic backups for at least 10 miles. One lane reopened around 5:45 p.m. and the scene was totally clear by 7:30 p.m.
According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, an elderly man driving a van south on I-95 was hauling three cows in a trailer. He had just purchased the animals from a livestock arena in Smithfield.
The man was driving under the speed limit – between 35 and 45 mph – when the trailer was struck from behind by an SUV, troopers said. After impact, both drivers lost control, and the SUV was struck by a tractor-trailer.
All three cows got loose on the highway. One was still missing as of 9:30 p.m.
Another cow was struck by the tractor-trailer, but appeared to be okay.
Two of the cows were tied to mile markers while authorities searched for the third and waited for a truck to pick them up.
The SUV driver was taken to Johnston County Medical Center in Smithfield with non-life-threatening injuries, troopers said. His name and condition were not released.
Troopers said the crash is under investigation and charges are likely.