OREM — Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez has quite a few interesting stories to tell. But he says most people wouldn't believe his latest story if there weren't pictures to prove it.
About 2 a.m. on Feb. 2, he was driving home on I-15 near University Parkway when he saw a flash out the corner of his eye — something that looked like a bird — and then that something hit his car.
He pulled over and called the Utah Highway Patrol and told them to check and see if there was a dead animal on the freeway. Then he got out of his vehicle to see what kind of damage the collision had caused.
He was not expecting to see what he saw.
“Not only had the bird hit me, but it was now stuck in my front bumper and it was a very large owl,” Martinez recalled. “And when I looked a little bit closer, I saw that the owl had a dead chicken in his claws when it hit me.
"When I looked a little bit closer, I saw that the owl had a dead chicken in his claws when it hit me."
"So not only did I have an owl stuck in my bumper, I had a chicken as well.”
The chicken presumably had just been stolen from someone’s backyard, and the owl had planned on eating it for dinner.
"If someone is missing a chicken, we know who took it," he said with a chuckle.
The chicken thief "picked the wrong time to pick up a chicken and fly across the freeway," the sergeant said.
The Great Horned Owl was turned over to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, which is having a taxidermist mount it, so it can be used in educational exhibits.
In a career where officers see a lot of things they sometimes would rather not, the owl/chicken freeway collision is one of those stories Martinez said he will likely tell over and over. And while a picture is worth a thousand words, his pictures offer proof of the reason it cost $1,000 to repair his car.
"I've got a lot of stories to tell people," he said. "But this is sure an interesting one."