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Piglet from I-77 crash finds new home

By GREG JORDAN

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRAMWELL,W.Va. — Last week, local volunteer firefighters were among the many who heard a call they don’t hear every day: Come and get some pigs.

First responders were dispatched June 29 when a tractor-trailer overturned on Interstate 77 between Bluefield and Princeton. The driver wasn’t hurt, but firefighters and law enforcement had to deal with 2,300 small pigs caught inside the trailer. Firefighters sprayed water on the pigs – which have no sweat glands – to keep them cool.

Ricki SImpkins holds the pig she rescued from a recent tractor-trailer wreck on I-77.
(Photo by Jessica Nuzzo)

Mercer County doesn’t have a holding area large enough to house so many animals, so word went out that there were a lot of pigs needing new homes. Firefighter Ricki Simpkins of the Bramwell Volunteer Fire Department knew members of other departments were on the scene, but then other firefighters heard a reason to head for Interstate 77, too.

“I heard East River (Volunteer Fire Department) get pages out for it and Oakvale (Volunteer Fire Department) paged out for it, but then somebody posted on Facebook that they were giving them away,” Simpkins recalled. “I just wanted to get there and save as many as possible.”

Simpkins and another Bramwell firefighter put three of the pigs in her truck, but they stayed to help move more of the animals from the wreckage to other people arriving with trucks, trailers and cages. Firefighters, state troopers, deputies, state Department of Highways workers, people with the Mercer County Animal Shelter, and volunteers formed lines and passed pigs from person-to-person.

After the emergency was under control, Simpkins took one of the marooned pigs home. It hasn’t been named and she was still deciding what to do with it. The goal now is to help it recover from the crash. Many of them were killed by the crash or died later.

“It’s still kind of tramatized. I’m feeding it scraps of food right now and giving it water. She moves around a lot… We have to get her up and get her moving,” she said. “My son’s been playing with it, but that’s about it.”

Simpkins said she has several pigs already including miniature pigs and a couple of potbelly pigs. Unlike miniature pigs, the pigs on the trailer can grow up to weigh between 400 to 600 pounds.

The June 29 crash was the first of its kind that Simpkins has had to deal with.

“The only thing we’ve had was when a Coca-Cola truck wrecked and we got to keep the Coke, but never anything alive or anything like that,” she recalled.

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