Friday night found Papa Bear driving home from a Lodge gathering held in the Sandhills about twenty-five miles south of the city. Eastbound on the two-lane highway he noted a Dodge pick-up on the shoulder of the westbound lane with it's flashers on. Looking up, he saw directly in front of him, the body of a large donkey laying in the center of the road and across his lane. He knew that swerving to avoid it would likely cause his truck to roll, so he had no choice but to grip the steering wheel tightly and roll over it with his left wheels, jarring the truck roughly.
He immediately pulled off the road into the ditch, turned on his flashers, got his flashlight and surveyed the truck for damages. As he hollered to the two men standing across the road standing beside the truck that had apparently struck the donkey, a semi-truck with a trailer full of cattle came upon the scene and ran into/over the donkey, leaning to one-side as it's wheels crossed. The drive of the semi pulled off the road to check for damage and then took off.
Papa Bear crossed the road to the other pick-up truck, and learned that the driver had actually hit two donkeys that had wondered onto the road. One had been killed, the second one survived and rejoined a group of six more that were standing loose between the shoulder of the road and the fence they should have been contained in. The fence gate was hanging wide open. Papa Bear asked if they had called the highway patrol. The man said "We don't have the number." Papa Bear immediately called the DPS (Texas Dept. of Public Safety) and gave them the location of the accident. While waiting for them to arrive, yet another car came upon the scene and ran over the donkey, stopped to check for damages, and then went on it's way.
Realizing the danger of this large animal lying in the middle of the road, Papa Bear turned his truck around and focused his 30-inch LED light bar on it to alert oncoming traffic. He also used his flashlight to signal oncoming drivers to slowdown so they could avoid the donkey. A man from a nearby ranch heard the noise and came with his Kawasaki Mule to help. He herded the remaining donkeys back inside the fence and closed the gate. Then they used the Mule and a strap to pull the dead donkey off the road. The Sheriff then arrived to direct traffic, and the DPS office came to make a report and locate the donkeys' owner.
Thankfully, Papa Bear's truck sustained only minor damage where the donkey went underneath. The other truck had front end damage on both sides where it initially struck the two donkeys standing on the road.
Papa Bear drove a wrecker for over five years when he was younger. He knows what to do at the scene of an accident. Thanks to his quick thinking and common sense, more serious injuries were undoubted averted by slowing down approaching traffic with his signaling and lights, and helping to get the donkey off the highway before more vehicles ran into it.
Needless to say, it was scary! One also has to be wary of oncoming drivers swerving to avoid the donkey and striking the trucks or drivers on the shoulders of the road. He said the donkey was very large, someone could easily have been seriously injured or killed by running into it. Angels were clearly watching over that section of the road and those travelling upon it Friday night.
Surprisingly and mercifully, the donkey was not torn up by the vehicles striking it, it died from internal injuries. Papa Bear took pictures for insurance purposes. No... I don't want to see them, it is too sad. The gate from which the donkeys escaped was left open by someone being careless. That carelessness could easily have resulted in someone's death. I hope the second donkey will be okay, we love donkeys. I am sad for the rancher's loss too.
Papa Bear called me immediately after he struck the donkey on the road and had safely pulled over. I realized how badly the night could have ended for him and/or the others involved. Once again the message rings clear... we don't know from one moment to the next what will happen in the lives of people close to us, treasure every day that you share, and be sure to tell people how much you love them!
And for Heaven's sake... get the proper emergency phone numbers in your cell phone!! If you don't know the number for the police, sheriff's department or highway patrol, CALL 911 and they will notify the proper authorities that help is needed. Don't just stand there wondering what to do!
Postscript - As of yesterday the poor donkey's body still remains on the side of the road in the 100 degree sun. Papa Bear called the DPS again. It will likely not be picked up until Monday. :-(