Up to half of the 2,200 piglets that were in a semitrailer that overturned Monday on a freeway in Ohio may have died, authorities now say.
The young "feeder pigs" — piglets that are sent to another farm to be raised for slaughter — were reportedly en route from South Carolina to a farm in Indiana when the big rig crash around 7 p.m. local time Monday on U.S. Route 35 near Xenia.
Police said the driver of the truck lost control and veered into a guardrail, injuring a passenger sending hundreds of piglets barreling out of the trailers.
In the hours after the crash, authorities closed streets and raced to corral the survivors, with the death toll initially estimated to only be in the hundreds. Crews could be seen forming chain lines to hand off squealing pigs by their hind legs.
"There's quite a few pigs that got out and ran from the accident. They're in the woods. I don't think we'll ever get all of them, I really, really don't," Xenia Township Fire Chief Dean Fox said during the operation.
But Greg Beegle, a deputy chief of the Xenia township's fire department, told the Associated Press Tuesday that the search for any surviving piglets that may have fled into the surrounding forest area had been called off.
As many as 1,100 pigs likely died after they either suffocated or were crushed after being thrown from the trailer, Beegle added.
The truck driver, meanwhile, would likely be cited for failure to control a motor vehicle, police said. The sole passenger in the truck sustained minor injuries and was treated a local hospital.