Drivers making their morning commute along U.S. Highway 278 in eastern Newton County Thursday morning were shocked to see 15 dead cows laying alongside the road.
More than 40 cows got loose from Bricton Farms on Ga. Highway 11 around 10 p.m. Wednesday, causing at least six accidents because drivers couldn't see the dark-colored cows, including one Toyota van that hit and killed seven cows by itself, said Moses Little, a senior trooper with the Georgia State Patrol.
The van was totally demolished, though the driver was able to be treated at the scene. Another Chevy pickup truck hit and killed three cows, though the driver and passenger were not injured. The accidents took place between Dixie and Melody roads.
"They had a bad night," Little said.
Bricton Farms owner C.L. Cook said he didn't know how the cows got out of the pasture but assumed they got spooked.
He said the 15 beef cattle were worth around $40,000.
Three of the cows hit had their legs broken and had to be put down by the trooper working the scene using a Glock pistol, according to the sheriff's office report.
Cook said he didn't have any insurance for such an incident.
When asked if any of cows could have been processed for meat, Cook said the ones with broken legs probably could have been processed if anybody had wanted them.
"We put most of them out in the middle of the night," Cook said. "I wasn't thinking about (processing them). We were just trying to get the road cleared and make sure everybody was safe."
Bricton Farms has about 300 beef cattle on its 292 acres and is one of the largest farms in Newton County.
The cows were picked up Newton County's Public Works Department Thursday morning and transported to the landfill, where they were buried, said Landfill Manager James Peters. Peters said the landfill often deals with animals, including animals euthanized at the animal control, as well as goats, horses and sheep.
Reporter Amber Pittman contributed to this report.