Steamboat Springs Law enforcement officials say it’s not clear who’s liable for damages after a car hit and killed two cows along U.S. Highway 40 on Tuesday night.
Isaiah Farnsworth, 31, hit two cows in his Subaru outside the Hogue Ranch, near Steamboat II, shortly after 8:30 p.m. Maureen Hogue confirmed that the cows belonged to her family and said it appears a “fencing issue” allowed the cows onto the highway. She declined to comment further.
Routt County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Mellisa Baumgartner said Colorado is a “fence out” state, meaning that if people want to keep cows from a neighboring property off their land, it’s their obligation to put up a fence.
She said the issue usually is handled by insurance companies, but it could become a civil suit if either the driver or ranch owner did not have insurance. A number listed for Farnsworth, of Craig, appeared to be incorrect.
Medical crews took Farnsworth to Yampa Valley Medical Center. YVMC spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said he was treated in the emergency room and released and never officially was admitted to the hospital.
Baumgartner said Farnsworth might have suffered cuts to his face in the crash, but he was walking and coherent when he entered the ambulance.
Baumgartner said there’s no law that requires ranchers to keep livestock off the road, although it’s usually in their best interest to do so.
When deputies get a report of cows on the road, they typically shoo them off and notify the owner, she said, but they do not issue tickets.
Deputies handed the case over to the Colorado State Patrol.
Sgt. Scott Elliott said he’s out of the region doing training and he didn’t have details about the incident, and the trooper who is handling the case was not on duty Wednesday.
Elliott said that typically, however, drivers are not ticketed when they hit livestock on the road.
Brand Inspector Darren Clever said it’s usually the state’s job to maintain fences along state highways.
He said that ordinarily the driver’s insurance company pays for the cows, although the case could go to a judge for determination.