More than 3 dozen calves killed in highway crash west of Prince George

Calves were spotted along Highway 16 west of Prince George following the crash of a cattle liner on Nov. 11, 2022.  (Jessica Toft - image credit)
Calves were spotted along Highway 16 west of Prince George following the crash of a cattle liner on Nov. 11, 2022. (Jessica Toft - image credit)

More than three dozen calves were killed on Friday after a cattle liner slid off the road around 60 kilometres west of Prince George.

Local ranchers saved about 70 calves from the wreckage while dozens more calves had to be recovered over the course of several days.

Three are still missing, according to Mike Pritchard, yard manager with B.C. Livestock, a rancher-owned co-op with a location in Vanderhoof where the 130 calves were sold just hours before the crash.

Pritchard says it's one of the worst livestock fatality incidents he's ever seen on B.C. roads.

Mike Pritchard
Mike Pritchard

Cattle liner landed in ditch 

RCMP say they received reports of a crash on Highway 16 near East Bay Road between Prince George and Vanderhoof just after 2 p.m. Friday.

The driver lost control of the eastbound cattle liner, which spun 180 degrees before ending up on its side in the westbound ditch.

Pritchard says B.C. Livestock and volunteers rescued 71 calves from the wreckage.

Mike Pritchard
Mike Pritchard

"It took a couple of hours cutting through the superstructure of the liner, making passageways for the live ones to get out," he said.

The team combed the highway over the weekend, recovering dozens of lost calves.

Mike Pritchard
Mike Pritchard

Pritchard says the driver of the cattle liner was "distraught," but unharmed. RCMP confirm the driver suffered minor injuries and did not require medical attention.

All hands on deck to bring the calves home

On Monday, Pritchard and a team of local ranchers were still out looking for the remaining calves that scattered along the highway following the crash, some as far as five kilometres away.

He says local ranching families and the Prince George Stockmen's Association were essential, providing trailers to transport the injured and tracking those that went missing.

Geraldine Pritchard
Geraldine Pritchard

Pritchard says it's fortunate the crash occurred so close to a community equipped to deal with it. Rescue efforts in more remote parts of the province would have proven more difficult, he says.

Mike Pritchard
Mike Pritchard

"Other cattlemen's associations throughout the province are working towards a response-type role in these kinds of things," he said.