Two sheriff’s deputies are on paid administrative leave after a tragic string of incidents led deputies to exchange fire with a prominent Idaho rancher, killing him.
Around 7pm last night, a Subaru station wagon collided with one of 62-year-old Council rancher Jack Yantis’ bulls, injuring the driver and passenger.
First responders reportedly attempted to free the passengers from the wreckage, but Yantis’ bull by that time was aggravated.
“The bull was very agitated and was aggressive to emergency services, as well as the other cars coming up and down the highway,” Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman told KTVB.
“Zollman said dispatchers had called Yantis after the crash, telling him that the bull that was hit appeared to be his, and was down on the highway near his house,” KTVB reports.
As deputies prepared to put the bull down, Yantis “arrived on the scene with a rifle,” according to KTVB.
Zollman says police are still investigating the following set of events, but claims there was a confrontation between two deputies and the rancher in which they all fired their weapons.
After the smoke cleared, one deputy suffered a minor injury, but Yantis’ wounds were fatal.
Upon learning news of her husband’s death, Yantis’ wife, Donna, reportedly suffered a heart attack and was flown to the regional hospital two hours away in Boise. She was in critical condition as of Monday afternoon, according to the Idaho Statesman.
While Zollman says he did not know Yantis personally, he notes most deputies and townsfolk were familiar with him.
“I knew of him. I could recognize him and tell you what truck him and his wife drove,” Zollman said.
“This is going to be a big hit to this community,” the sheriff said. “The gentleman involved, Mr. Yantis, was a well-known cattle rancher around here. It’s just a sad deal for everybody involved, for the whole community.”
The sheriff says some of Yantis’ other animals had been hit by cars in the past, and that animals wandering onto a roadway are a common occurrence where ranchers open range livestock.
Armed citizens are also common, the sheriff says.
“We assume everyone has a gun in their car at all times,” Zollman told the Idaho Statesman. “We deal with firearms daily. These officers are very aware of that — that (Yantis) had a gun … (is) not uncommon. That’s just common practice.”
It is still being determined whether a bullet from Yantis’ gun ultimately killed the bull.
The Idaho State Police have taken up the investigation.
More on this as it develops…