Deaths a mystery

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 11:30 10/05/2012
Doug
Doug Avery on his Bonavaree Farm in the Grassmere Valley

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Grassmere farmer Doug Avery is asking questions about what spooked 660 of his sheep late on Sunday night, causing them to run onto the highway where 65 were killed by a car transport truck.

Mr Avery said he would love to move on from his "worst day ever" and focus on positive things. However, it would be good to know what triggered a top mob of young in-lamb ewes to run into a corner of their paddock, smash through a taranaki gate, race down a laneway, hit a fence and surge onto a cutting on SH1.

The two-tooth composite ewes were a huge loss, almost all carrying triplets or twins and worth about $250 to $300 each, Mr Avery said.

At first, his insurance company suggested they would not be covered but had since said they would accept a claim.

Worse than the economic loss had been seeing 30 of his best young ewes "unrecognisable and the road covered with a slippery, meaty gel", Mr Avery said.

Ward and Seddon volunteer fire fighters and the police did a wonderful job of humanely killing injured sheep and HEB Contracting staff had turned up at between about 11.30pm and 4am to clean the road.

"It is not natural for sheep to bolt straight for a main road on a perfectly still night," Mr Avery said. "There are 1000 reasons why I am convinced something frightened them."

People living in the area had told him about a loud bang from a truck pulled up on a weighbridge, a car which intimidated a driver by following close behind her with headlights on full beam and someone who quickly pulled off the road and turned their headlights off, that night.

The policeman who attended drove south through the cutting shortly before the accident on another callout and said there were no sheep on the road then, Mr Avery said.

Neighbouring landowners cut up the sheep which would be useful as dog tucker, Mr Avery said.

"I am grateful no-one was killed although the truck driver was badly shaken," he said.

The incident happened about 200 metres south of the Grassmere bridge on SH1.

Anyone with information about what caused the accident should ring Mr Avery or the Blenheim police.

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- The Marlborough Express

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