MISSOULA — A truck dripping rancid juices from thousands of pounds of rotting chicken sat in the heat attracting flies Thursday at a western Montana truck stop, where an Idaho trucking company employee abandoned it at least three days earlier.
The driver left the trailer containing approximately 37,000 pounds of frozen chicken near the Flying J Truck Stop west of Missoula after the company refused his requests for more money, authorities said. The chicken was worth $80,000.
The truck was discovered Tuesday. It may have been left there more than a month ago, Nampa, Idaho, police Sgt. Joe Ramirez said.
Law enforcement officers are searching for the driver, 42-year-old Christopher L. Hall, who had been wanted for a parole violation and now faces a possible theft charge, Ramirez said.
Hall picked up the trailer in Springdale, Arkansas, on Aug. 20 and was supposed to deliver it to Kent, Washington, the next day.
Hall reportedly texted Dixie River Freight Inc. several times, saying he needed more money. When the company refused to pay him until he delivered the load, he apparently abandoned the trailer at the truck stop, according to police in Nampa.
The trailer’s refrigerator apparently continued running until the fuel ran out, Ramirez said.
On Thursday, the trailer was surrounded by sawhorses, crime-scene tape and flies at the truck stop as temperatures threatened to reach the 90-degree range for a second straight day.
Alisha Johnson with the Missoula City-County Health Department said Dixie River’s insurance company was in charge of cleaning up the mess — and it’s not a simple job.
It involves getting the landfill prepared to receive the load, Johnson told the Missoulian on Thursday. “They’ll probably have to dig a separate hole for this.”
“There’s a possibility of re-freezing the trailer, but that could make it harder to off-load if it’s frozen together,” she said.
Shannon Therriault, environmental health supervisor with the health department, said it would be nice to be able move it just once.
“People don’t want rotting chicken juice all over their cars if it’s transported down the highway or down the roadway,” Therriault told KECI-TV. “There are things that are in raw chicken that can make you sick, and we don’t want someone to incidentally get it on their hands and then ingest it.”
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