Second bull run

For the second time in a month, bovine escapees get short-lived taste of freedom

For the second time in a month, bovine escapees get short-lived taste of freedom

May 30, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Three of the four bulls that fell out of Martin Burkholder's trailer Wednesday as he drove along Interstate 70 didn't stray far from the shoulder of the highway.

The fourth one strolled up Potomac Street, passed a high school art class sketching under a shade tree and continued into the neighborhood north of Wilson Boulevard.

After several hours of excitement and tranquilizers, all four bulls were captured and on their way back to Burkholder's farm in Franklin County, Pa.


Burkholder was hauling the bulls - which his son bought at an auction at Four States Livestock Sales - home to State Line, Pa. He didn't realize the trailer door had swung open.

"I was going on (Interstate) 70 and here that door flew open ...," Burkholder, 78, said as a tranquilized bull lay at his feet in a Guilford Avenue backyard. "I'll just have to tie it faster."

Burkholder said he was going about 55 or 60 miles per hour at the time.

Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Russ Plante said no charges were filed.

Wednesday's escape was the second in a month. On April 30, a steer was caught at Rose Hill Cemetery and a cow was stopped in Staley Park after they got away from their owner at Four States Livestock Auction.

Burkholder took two of his sons' steers to Four States to sell on Wednesday. He left with four bulls his son bought. Each weighed between 700 and 1,000 pounds.

When the bulls escaped at around 10:15 a.m., two stayed on the grassy westbound shoulder of the interstate. One crossed onto Review and Herald Publishing Association property.

"We were worried about the animals going into the road," Plante said.

Jim Starliper of Four States Livestock Auction shot a tranquilizer dart into one bull and three into a second bull, Plante said.

"The third bull on the shoulder was captured with sheer muscle power by state highway employees using ropes," a police press release said.

Plante said Starliper, the state police, the Washington County Sheriff's Department, state highway workers and Review and Herald maintenance employees worked together to capture the three bulls. It took almost four hours.

A man who recognized Burkholder from church stopped and helped load the bulls onto his trailer, Plante said.

Meanwhile, the fourth bull headed north.

Seventeen South Hagerstown High School students in Fay Wastler's second-period art class were sitting on the grass at the corner of Potomac Street and Downsville Road, sketching buildings and figures. They noticed the bull walking toward them, not quite following the concrete sidewalk.

Wastler said a student with an agricultural background started to approach the bull, but she advised him not to.

Students watched as the bull turned left on Downsville Road. They followed the animal for a bit to see where it would go.

"It was my most interesting drawing day," Wastler said.

The bull went up Maryland Avenue, crossed Wilson Boulevard and ambled down Spruce Street.

Pamela Hayes was sitting on a couch in her house at 1021 Spruce St. She looked out a window and saw what she thought was a cow on her front porch.

Her husband, James, noticed the horns and decided it was a bull.

Hagerstown City Police arrived around 11:45 a.m. Neighbors were gathering in yards and streets to witness the spectacle. Many had cameras.

The fourth bull was shot twice with tranquilizer darts. Hagerstown Police Officer Steve Cromer, Maryland State Police Trooper Dave Harper and volunteers Tim Dickinson and Tommy Carter were among those watching and waiting for the bull to drop to the ground.

It didn't.

The woozy bull stumbled over a split rail fence and continued through other yards. The group hustled after it and a patrol car scooted to block off a new intersection.

Behind 544 Guilford Ave., Harper caught the bull off guard near a chain-link fence and slipped a rope around its neck.

Then, the sedative set in. The bull conked out on the grass. Its eyes rolled back in its head. It was mostly still for about 45 minutes.

With a day off from his job at Washington County Hospital, Dean Washington was playing "Gex" on his Sony PlayStation video game console. He didn't see the commotion in his backyard until he went downstairs.

Outside, he joked, laughed and playfully put up his dukes as the bull got near his rose bush.

"This is really something," Washington said as he clicked his camera. "Wait till my boy sees these pictures."

"It was nice knowing you, big boy," Washington called to the bull as it finally stepped into Burkholder's trailer.

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