Idaho State Police say two people and more than a dozen dogs died when a box truck transporting animals for a rescue group crashed in eastern Idaho.
They say the truck was the only vehicle involved in the accident, which was reported on Friday at 6 a.m. on Interstate 15 at mile marker 105, west of Shelley. The driver and a passenger, both from Phoenix, died of their injuries, along with 14 dogs.
Investigators say the truck was taking 48 dogs of mixed breeds and different sizes to Calgary for adoption. All the dogs were in kennels for the trip, but several escaped. So far, 18 of those animals have been found and 16 remained unaccounted for, police said.
“Despite searching the interstate area, troopers have been unable to locate any more of the missing dogs,” police said. “Anyone who locates a stray animal in the area is urged to contact Bingham County animal control.”
Investigators say the crash occurred when the truck left the roadway and hit an embankment. The driver, 40-year-old Christopher Kracht, was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls where he died of his injuries, authorities said. His passenger, Ann Watson, 38, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said Kracht was wearing a seatbelt while Watson was not.
Local animal shelters, like the Blackfoot Animal Shelter and Rescue, are helping care for the surviving dogs until representatives from the animal rescue network can take them to Canada, where shelters are waiting to place the dogs in homes.
“Local veterinarians are also reportedly assisting the shelter with providing medical care to injured animals,” police said.
“A representative of the animal rescue network tells troopers they are en route to Bingham County. They plan to pick up the remaining dogs and safely continue onto Canada where shelters are waiting to place the dogs in adopted homes.”
The cause of the crash is under investigation, police said.
– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small