The 24-year-old driver of a semitrailer hauling cattle says he fell asleep just before the big rig overturned on Interstate 29 in Council Bluffs, spilling animals onto the heavily traveled north-south corridor.
Bradlee Ellis, of Hutchinson, Kan., told Council Bluffs police that he was awakened by his passenger, Emileigh Martens, 20, also of Hutchinson, just before he lost control of the 1994 Peterbilt rig about 11 p.m. Monday on southbound I-29 at Avenue G.
Ellis and Martens were in fair condition Tuesday at Creighton University Medical Center, police said.
Ellis suffered cuts to his face, and Martens complained of chest pain and said she had trouble breathing.
More than a dozen cattle were left roaming near the Interstate, according to 911 reports.
Police closed northbound and southbound I-29 near 35th Street and Avenue G, but the road was reopened in both directions by 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Officers requested equipment to remove dead animals, and animal control officers were called in to help.
According to an accident report, tire marks on I-29 showed that the semi was in a curve when the cab and trailer turned onto their passenger side.
The semi slid into the I-29 overpass at Avenue G and bounced off. That ripped off the top of the trailer, sending cattle onto I-29. The semi came to rest blocking southbound I-29.
The truck’s owner was listed as Ruf Farms LLC of Wilsonville, Neb.
On Saturday, Hutchinson police had arrested Ellis and Martens on suspicion of throwing a 5-month-old kitten against doors and walls in their home. The cat was dead when officers arrived at the scene, the Hutchinson News reported.
Detective Curtis Black said the disturbance grew out of a domestic dispute. Black said Martens and Ellis took turns tossing the cat into walls and doors.
Martens and Ellis were booked into the Reno County Jail. They were released later on bail. Martens’ bail was set at $250, Ellis’ at $750.