JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – Interstate 80 was back open near Joliet late Tuesday night, hours after a cattle hauler crashed and a more than a dozen cows and bulls ended up escaping.
Illinois State Police said around 3:40 pm, troopers responded to a crash involving a cattle hauler on I-80 near Houbolt Road. Several cows and bulls ended up on the loose in the eastbound lanes.
CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reported the cattle hauler collided with a second semi-trailer truck and a third vehicle. The cattle hauler was severely damaged in the crash with the trailer ripped open – allowing cattle to roam onto the roadway. The damaged cattle hauler ended up in the center median ditch after the crash.
The driver of the cattle hauler suffered life-threatening injuries and was rushed to the hospital. No other human injuries were reported.
About two or three dozen head of cattle were onboard the livestock carrier. Several animals did not survive the crash and were thrown onto the road and median.
But 17 cattle ended up blocking lanes in the roadway, and some of them escaped into the backwoods and fields nearby – necessitating the skills of cowboys and wranglers.
Along a service road near a rock quarry, Robert Kalunzy was spotted deep in the woods keeping an eye out for cattle.
“I heard a rustling in the weeds, so I stopped,” Kaluzny said. “A car came by, ‘Hey, can you watch them?’ And I go, ‘Watch what?’ “The cow!”
CBS 2’s Jermont Terry and photojournalist BJ Johnson were filming Kaluzny when out popped one of the 17 cattle on the run. They were within feet of the huge bull staring them down.
The bull ended up taking off back into the woods – but more help came afterward. A group of charros joined the search to lasso up the roaming cattle.
Kaluzny was joined by those charros and cow catchers – all with a mission to wrangle the livestock safely.
That bull that stared down Terry and Johnson was successfully lassoed.
“I was kind of staying in back, just to kind of watch – and those guys with their lassos, they got their hooves, and then it went down – so it was OK,” said Jacki Tuma.
Tuma was caught in the detour driving through Illinois. When she pulled up to see a bull charging toward her car, she said her impulse was, “I’m going to stop and get out of the way.”
All of the livestock was rounded up and accounted for late Tuesday.
All lanes reopened at 9:32 pm after being closed for nearly six hours between Houbolt Road and Larkin Avenue.
But it was quite the surreal scene for many – as of course, real life does not imitate “Rawhide” in Will County, Illinois in 2022 very often.