JOLIET, IL – Three months after several cows were killed when a semi-truck transporting the cattle overturned on Interstate 80, an animal rights group has placed a billboard in Will County encouraging people to go vegan in their memory.
PETA — People for the Environmental Treatment Of Animals — has launched a campaign that includes a billboard that reads, “I’m ME – Not MEAT. See the individual. Go Vegan” and will be displayed in Will County for a month honoring the memory of the two cows killed in the rollover accident.
The billboard is located on I-80, one mile west of the intersection with Route 7, PETA officials said Thursday.
The cows were killed in April after the driver of the semi-truck rear-ended another semi, causing a chaotic scene and closing I-80. The driver of the vehicle that was hauling the cattle suffered life-threatening injuries and was later charged with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Bradley Pate, Waynesboro, Virginia, 51, was charged with DUI and was issued citations for failing to reduce his speed to avoid an accident and improper lane usage, the Illinois State Police said. Police said that Pate hit a disabled semi-truck that was on the side of the expressway, kept driving, and hit another car.
Police said that the accident caused the truck to be torn open, which allowed 16 cows to get into I-80. Two of the cows were put down after the crash.
“Cows died in agony as a result of this reckless and preventable crash, while the survivors were likely rounded up and taken to be killed for their flesh,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “PETA’s memorial encourages anyone disturbed by the thought of these terrified animals suffering on the roadside or ending up under the slaughterhouse knife to go vegan.”
Portions of I-80 were closed for nearly six hours while cowboys and ranchers from Channahon, Peotone and Sheridan came to the crash with lassos to help round up the cattle that got loose when the semi-trailer rolled over.
The PETA campaign encourages people to go vegan, stating that each person who goes vegan saves the lives of nearly 200 cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals each year. In 2021, PETA estimates that there were at least 76 vehicle crashes or fires involving trucks carrying animals that are used for food.