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A Balclutha policeman called to a stock truck crash on Clutha River Rd yesterday said he was "just about ready to turn vegetarian" after seeing 27 in-calf dairy cows put down after the accident.
Senior Constable Darren Cox, of Balclutha, said a Clutha Valley Transport stock truck failed to take a bend on Clutha River Rd, between Clydevale and Rongahere, about 10.45am and both truck and trailer overturned.
Vet Jason Darwen told the NZPA "it was a horrendous and awful situation", and by the time he got there local people had already destroyed some of the worst affected animals.
Some of the cattle had been shot straight away though Mr Darwen was not sure who had done it.
"It was absolutely commendable to do that with animals suffering as they were."
Senior Constable Robert Wallace, of Lawrence, who was also called and was still at the accident site at 3.30pm waiting for the road to be cleared, said the truck driver received minor injuries and was taken to Clutha Health First in Balclutha for an assessment.
The New Zealand Transport Agency was called to inspect and repair a small bridge hit by the trailer, he said.
Clutha Valley Transport manager Evan Williams said there were 45 cows in the trailer, which he estimated were worth between $1800 and $2000 each.
He did not know exactly how many had been lost in the accident, but police said 27 cows were either killed in the impact, humanely shot by police or put down by the arriving vet staff.
This would put the loss between $48,600 and $54,000.
Police were still investigating the accident last night and could not say what caused it, but Mr Williams said the narrow road gave drivers "no margin for error if there is a truck coming the other way".
The truck was forced into the water table, causing it to roll, he said.