MERCED COUNTY — One dead chicken, 40,000 pounds of frozen chicken and an overturned big rig was more than enough to snarl traffic on Highway 99 south of Livingston for several hours Friday, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Officers said the driver of the truck, who wasn't identified, suffered minor injuries. He was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the CHP.
The truck was transporting a load of boxed, frozen chicken in its 40-foot cargo trailer. About 1:15 p.m., the CHP said, the big rig was heading north on Highway 99 about two miles south of Livingston when it drifted off the road, hit a guardrail and toppled into a ditch that runs along the shoulder of the freeway.
California Department of Transportation officials said that as the truck careened along the ditch it hit a structure that is designed to contain spills and water. It then veered back toward the road and flipped on its side on the shoulder, running over a chicken grazing in the ditch. Homes and farmland are just beyond the ditch and a fence that separates them.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash, but traffic immediately began backing up in the northbound lanes approaching the crash site.
Several tow trucks were called to the scene to right the big rig. Officials said the scene was cleared up by 7:30 p.m.