21st Century Road Rage Meets 19th Century Cattle Drive 061911
As the Reader Ranch drovers urged their cattle down the same stock route they’d used for generations, a young motorist lost patience with the pace of cows and plowed his car into the herd.
The drive was near Pike City on a short road connecting Highway 49 with the small communities of Pike City and Alleghany when a white Jeep Cherokee started pushing through the herd, then suddenly jogged right, hitting five cows, threatened to drive into cow hands , and twice running over a trained cowdog. The cowdog, Maggie, was seriously injured, requiring hours of surgery to repair her shattered legs and damaged organs. The cows continued with the herd, but might be injured.
The Reader Ranch drive through the rural roads of southern Sierra County and northern Nevada County is one of the few such drives left in California. A century ago such drives were common, but as trucking became more economical the cost could be partially offset by the weight cows lose on a long drive, the likelihood of injury covering rough terrain, and the wages of cow hands. In this modern world, concern about liability, complaints about cow shit left on the roads, and maniacs in cars further discourage the humble cattle drive. This incident might encourage Reader Ranch to second thoughts, as well.
The California Highway Patrol responded to the incident but swiftly concluded it was not an accident, but a crime. Sierra County Sheriff’s department was summoned, and two deputies responded, asking questions around Pike City, Alleghany, North San Juan and eventually identifying the suspect in Comptonville. The driver is alleged to be Justin Phillip Lombardobarton, 19, who, according to a press release from Sierra County Sheriff John Evans, has been charged with P.C. 245 (a)(1) Assault with a Deadly Weapon, P.C. 597(a)(1) Animal Cruelty and P.C. 594(b)(1) Vandalism of Property. Further charges may be made pending examination of all the evidence. The vehicle has been identified and towed.
The Prospect joins many in our community in outrage at the cruelty and disregard of this act. There aren’t many places left where a rancher can still drive, but Sierra County is one of them. The Fringe Editor would like to add that if the cowhands of today wore the iron we did when we drove, this tragedy could have been cut short and the deputies of Sierra County saved some footwork.
Best of Luck to Maggie.