A dozen pigs were killed and another 12 were left so mangled and bloody that they had to be put out of their misery onsite. Pigs were screaming. “That’s probably … a broke pig … laying there,” one responding officer observed at the scene of a crash involving a truck on its way to the Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in Virginia on May 24, driven by Zachary Taylor Edwards. This is the sort of suffering that Smithfield Foods–bound drivers have been repeatedly responsible for. But today, after his hearing in Suffolk General District Court, Edwards told PETA that he quit his job—and is considering never hauling live animals again.
In body-camera video obtained by PETA, police officers concluded that Edwards “fell asleep” or “was going too fast.” Footage of the crash’s aftermath shows a Smithfield worker commanding others to grab a “hot shot” in order to electroshock surviving pigs and force them onto a replacement truck to continue their harrowing journey to the slaughterhouse.
This wreck compounded the stress and terror of animals who had already been bred, born, and raised in nightmare conditions. Once at the slaughterhouse, workers likely hanged the surviving pigs upside down and slit their throats. Edwards—a husband and father who described the wreck as “scary”—has set an example for other truck drivers by quitting his job. By hitting the brakes on transporting live animals altogether and permanently, he would pave the way for others to follow suit.
The video above also recounts how 18 trucks hauling live pigs to the same Smithfield slaughterhouse have crashed, including those involved in four wrecks just in 2020. In response to PETA’s request, the Virginia Department of Transportation is now studying why nine of them wrecked on one particular Suffolk, Virginia, street.
Will Edwards pledge never to haul live animals again, for everyone’s sake?
Only time will tell. For himself, his family, and animals, we hope Edwards will make the right decision. Anyone else disturbed by animals suffering in trucks and on the roadside—or in slaughterhouses—can take action, too: Go vegan. Click below to let PETA help get you on your way with a free copy of our vegan starter kit: