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John Hollenhorst ReportingJim Jensen, Sheep Owner: "Some of them flipped clear over into the fields on the north side there."
It was a gruesome scene in Spanish Fork. Cleanup crews went to work today, picking up the remains of a flock of sheep after a railroad train plowed right through it. The animal death toll was astounding; out of 132 sheep in the flock, only eight survived.
The sights and smells along the railroad track are things you should hope to never experience. 124 sheep were sent flying and killed, all because of a marauding dog.
As cleanup crews moved in, they encountered a scene that would test a strong stomach: three rams and 121 ewes, many of them smashed to pieces by a railroad train on the night of Dec 19th. They came from a prize winning flock that's delighted farm kids for two decades. Jim Jensen is one of four owners.
Jim Jensen: "A lot of the champions in the junior livestock shows and the county fairs for the last fifteen to twenty years have come from this flock."
On the night in question, they were attacked in a field by what the sheep men believe was a neighbor's dog. The sheep were theoretically contained by a three-wire electric fence that delivers a strong jolt.
Jim Jensen: “They won’t fight the fence as long as they’re not scared.”
The dog had the sheep in such a state of panic that they tore down the wire, headed for the highway, and then raced toward the railroad tracks.
Jim Jensen: "They won't cross that. So then they come over here to go around it, and that's a pretty good path down the tracks there."
A Union Pacific train plowed right through the flock and kept right on going. Most of them died immediately. A couple died later, making the death toll 124. In addition, most of the sheep were pregnant and close to lambing.
Spanish Fork police gave the sheep owners permission to shoot a neighbor's dog the next day.
Union Pacific Railroad officials said they would not comment while the incident is under investigation.
The flock of sheep was not insured.
Jim Jensen: “In order to replace it just like we had it, we're looking at three or four years, and a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars apiece."
The dog owner told us he sympathizes with the sheep men's loss, and hopes they are compensated somehow, but he says he doesn't have the money. And he's not convinced it was his dog that started the panic.