LEBANON, Tenn. - Minutes after a semi carrying horses crashed on I-40 Monday night, rumors started swirling. Some said horses were loose on the interstate, while others claimed the truck was taking them to slaughter.
On Tuesday, NewsChannel 5 talked the owner of the horses, who said the rumors are nothing more than myth.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Investigators said the driver of the tractor trailer fell asleep, then flipped his semi with 36 horses stuck inside.
Doctor Monty McInturff is a veterinarian with Tennessee Equine Hospital. He was also part of the emergency response team that handled Monday nights' scene.
McInturff said when he arrived, the horses were still inside the trailer and emergency responders had created a make-shift corral around the trailer.
"The horses where very calm, the horses that were injured were laying calmly some horses were down and some were standing," said McInturff.
Three were euthanized on scene, unable to walk because of back injuries or a broken leg. One was kept to treat a knee injury.
Dorian Ayache owns Three Angels Farm in Lebanon and the horses.
In an off-camera interview he told NewsChannel Five that the remaining 32 horses were eventually re-loaded and sent on to the Oklahoma feed lot that originally purchased them. Ayache confirmed that the horses were not back on his farm.
Many assumed the horses were headed for slaughter, but today Ayache said, "We sell them to different dealers, we have different people for different purposes. Some of them are bucking horses for rodeos, some of them are good riding horses, walking horses quarter horses. And we sell them to different dealers, and from there they sell them to individuals. We sell them to dealers, what they do with them I don't know."
People also speculated that the horses were on board a double decker trailer, which is an illegal way to transport horses.
But Ayache, State Police, and the wrecking yard that picked up the trailer all confirm the horses were on a single level trailer.
McInturff said, "I don't know who owned them or where they were going but I do know they were being hauled in a humane fashion."
The Tennessee Highway Patrol said charges are pending against the driver of the semi.
As for Ayache, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said he's been a registered livestock dealer for the past year and they will not conduct an investigation. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that Ayache failed a safety audit back in 2010.
Tennessee Department of Agriculture officials said the driver was carrying the proper health certificates at the time of the crash. He's expected to be okay.