A semi load of cattle that wrecked in Pratt County early this morning required the response of several agencies. At 1:15 a.m. the Pratt County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to the scene of a semi that had rolled and was laying broadside in the roadway on K-61 Highway in the city of Preston, Ks. The driver, Thomas J. Smolinski, 50, of Lachine, Mi., was enroute to Oklahoma in a 2006 Peterbilt, with 145 head of cattle. He met a car in heavy rain, lost sight of the road, dropping off on the shoulder, going into the ditch; back up on the highway, where the semi rolled on its side. The driver was out when emergency crews arrived and he was not injured. Twenty three head of cattle were killed in the accident.
K-61 Highway was closed from Pratt to K-14 Highway for 3 ½ hours. It was reopened at approximately 5:00 a.m.
The Pratt County Sheriff’s Office, Preston Fire Department, Township 12 Fire and Rescue, and Pratt County Emergency Services, all responded to the scene. Kansas Department of Transportation assisted in closing K-61 from Pratt to K-14 in Reno County, and the Pratt Police Department assisted KDOT in Pratt with the closing. Berry Bortz, a local farmer, also assisted and took the cattle to his farm south of Preston until further arrangements can be made.