Two angus steers staged a jailbreak at the intersection of Conley Road and U.S. 63 Tuesday morning.
Jay Lewis of Ashland was driving 17 of his steers to a sale barn at Boonville when the escape occurred.
“I lost hay bales in this intersection in the ’80s, but this is a first for cows,” Lewis said.
Lewis first knew something was wrong when he saw the driver of the vehicle behind him get out of his car and start running toward the trailer.
“I just jumped out,” said Lewis. “I knew it couldn’t be good.”
Sure enough, a loose slide gate had opened, allowing the steers to escape. Fortunately for Lewis, only two got away. One headed east, perhaps hoping for a new start in St. Louis. The other was willing to take his chances in Columbia and wandered along U.S. 63.
Witnesses said rounding up the animals didn’t take very long. Traffic stopped for a short time as Lewis, several Missouri Department of Transportation employees and local law enforcement worked together to herd the animals into a ditch on the side of Conley Road.
Lewis called two friends, Klif Bullard and Eddie Berendzen, for help. Berendzen, the owner of On Point Construction, arrived on the scene with several employees who had been working at a nearby development. Bullard arrived later with a portable corral.
While Transportation Department employees kept the steers in the ditch, the rest of the men assembled Bullard’s corral. Meanwhile, Officer Jim Blaska of the Columbia Police Department monitored the situation and traffic around the scene.
After the cattle were safely in Bullard’s corral, Lewis still needed to get them to market. Opening the door to the trailer meant another possible escape. Supplies from Berendzen’s construction company again came to the rescue, providing a second trailer to take the errant duo to Boonville.
While livestock escapes are not uncommon in this area, Blaska said they are rare in the city. The police officer helping with the incident was raised on a farm around cattle and said rounding up the animals was not particularly difficult. His main concern was people gawking and disrupting traffic at the busy intersection. Because no property was damaged and no one was hurt, Blaska said Lewis would not be issued a ticket.