A video showing a motorist slamming into a family of ducks at a Citrus Heights intersection has outraged witnesses and sparked an investigation.
According to witness Brian Nash, a female driver of a Volkswagen Jetta accelerated as the traffic light turned green even as a large family of ducks crossed the street about 7 p.m. Saturday along Fair Oaks Boulevard and Sunrise East Way.
“There was no stomping on the brakes – even a second of ‘Hey, what happened?’ ” he said. “When you have 20-foot-long line of ducks in front of you, it’s kind of hard to miss.”
Nash and his wife got out of their car to attend to a flailing duck, which had a broken leg and a broken wing but no external bleeding. After calling several animal shelters and animal control, the couple decided to bring it to a local clinic. However, the duck died on the way.
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Kylee Giles, who took the video, and her boyfriend, Jesse Bell, followed the woman to nearby Fair Oaks Park, where she got out of the car with two children. Giles says she and Bell asked the woman if she had realized what had happened, but said the woman “played it off” as if she had not seen the ducks. Giles said the driver did not display remorse about the ducks and described her reaction as “heartless.”
“Her kids even said that they saw the ducks,” Giles said. “Any kid would see a line of ducks. We saw them from about a half mile down the road. Even cars behind us saw them.”
The Citrus Heights Police Department will obtain a statement from the driver, said Lt. David Gutierrez. Gutierrez, who had seen the video, did not want to make assumptions about the intent of the driver before officers speak with her.
“I never like to watch a video and make a determination of innocence or guilt,” he said. “There is a possibility that she didn’t even see them. There also is a likelihood that this is an intentional act.”
While animals frequently get run over in the city, Gutierrez said he never has dealt with any situations in which ducks were intentionally run over. According to Gutierrez, the situation would constitute a misdemeanor if it were intentional. If the animal were a dog, cat or endangered species, it could be a felony.
Citrus Heights Animal Control Officer Ruben Hernandez said the situation would violate Penal Code No. 597 and would be a “wobbler” between misdemeanor and felony, if intentional. He also said that he had seen similar situations before, where citizens felt as if an animal was struck purposefully.
“It does happen,” he said. “When it comes to Animal Control, we follow up on it. If our Police Department needs us in any way, we’ll offer our support.”