There are few things scarier than driving down the interstate and having an elk run out onto the highway. Now imagine if 50 elk ran onto I-80 at rush hour. That’s what a smart Summit County Sheriff deputy prevented this morning. At about 7:45 AM, we saw a herd of elk moving down a hill in Jeremy Ranch. They were about 100 feet from entering I-80 and showed no signs of stopping. Just then a sheriff’s pickup truck pulled up and blocked the way. The deputy moved the truck back and forth, preventing the herd from going onto the highway and encouraging them to go back up the hill. Once the herd had moved back a bit, he took a page out of the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog trials and drove up onto the Jeremy Ranch driving range. He slowly moved the truck back and forth, driving the herd up and away from the freeway. Once the herd was safely away from the highway, he stopped, apparently in order to not spook them. While perhaps there is training on this sort of thing, it’s likely the deputy just has incredible judgement.
The deputy waited but something appeared to spook the herd from above and they rushed back towards trees and headed back toward the freeway. At that point some concerned citizens followed the deputy’s lead. They began using their cars to block the herd from racing onto the freeway. In particular, a black jeep was able to back up and stop all but one of the animals from going onto I-80. The black jeep appeared to honk and backup, cutting off the animals’ path and turning them back into the residential area. The one elk that did race across I-80 somehow dodged oncoming traffic going 70 miles per hour and made it to safety.
If it wouldn’t have been for the deputy and the citizens that assisted, it is likely all those animals would have entered I-80 and also likely many people would have been seriously injured or killed and many elk harmed in the process. Some quick judgement definitely changed the outcome for many motorists (and elk) today. It is one of those morning where you just say “WOW”… and are thankful there are people like that out there.