I-74 crash: 13 pigs euthanized; driver of pickup in critical condition

I-74 crash: 13 pigs euthanized; driver of pickup in critical condition

URBANA — Thirteen pigs died from Friday's crash that left a Mahomet man critically injured.

The 163 pigs that survived didn't make it much farther, eventually arriving at their intended destination: the Rantoul Foods hog-processing plant to be slaughtered.

"There were eight at the scene that were either dead or had to be euthanized because their injuries were severe," said Jan Allen, Rantoul Foods' livestock procurer. "Then there were five at the facility that we did euthanize. Other than that, the others were fine. It was a pretty good outcome, all things considered."

The semitrailer hauling the pigs was traveling from Indiana, Allen said, when about noon Friday it hit the rear of Scot Davis' pickup truck on Interstate 74 in Urbana.

He had braked to avoid hitting a deer that ran across the road, state police said, and no tickets were issued.

Davis, 51, of Mahomet was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon at Carle Foundation Hospital after his pickup spun to the left shoulder.

Meanwhile, the semi jackknifed and overturned. The driver, Trevar Fischer, 36, of Indiana, was taken to the hospital Friday with non-life-threatening injuries.

Besides the human injuries, three dozen pigs spilled out of the trailer and were eventually contained in the right ditch.

When crashes like this happen, the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine sends someone to ensure the animals are properly taken care of, said Dr. Ben Blair.

"Our role in these types of things is to get there and assess all the animals. Then we have to ensure we meet all the welfare standards," Blair said. "We're the animal advocate on scene."

On Friday, Blair said four people from Vet Med went to the scene to assess the injuries, properly load the healthy pigs back onto the trailer and euthanize the seriously injured pigs with a "captive bolt" gun that stuns them by damaging their brain stems.

Not all injured pigs are necessarily euthanized, Blair said.

"Ones with really bad fractures are euthanized, or those with crush or internal injuries," he said. "Because ultimately, these are farm animals, so they do have an associated monetary value with them that does not cover the cost to fix a broken femur."

The pigs euthanized at the scene of the crash can't be used for human consumption, Blair said, because pigs used for food have to be slaughtered at a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected site, which the side of a road is not.

But Rantoul Foods still used the injured pigs.

"They go to rendering," Allen said. "In our business, every part of the animal gets used for a variety of things, including the inedible parts."

The parts are used in pet foods, pharmaceuticals and makeup, for example, Allen said.

"All kinds of things like that, so there's no part of the animal that's ever wasted," he said.