On the morning of Sept. 1, Sara Hope returned to her Citrus Heights home after dropping her children off at school to find her street covered in bright orange feathers and her neighborhood’s beloved roaming rooster, Jake, dead in front of her driveway.
“I was devastated,” Hope said. “I went inside and cried and had to put gloves on. Unfortunately, I was the one that had to pick him up there on the street, and I’m just shocked that somebody would do that.”
Jake the rooster was hit by a speeding car outside of Hope’s home on Cross Drive between Oak Avenue and Woodmore Oaks Drive in Citrus Heights at around 7:27 a.m. on Sept. 1 by a driver speeding down the narrow residential street. Hope said cars speed in front of her house often, as her road has become a shortcut of sorts between these two busy streets.
Hope’s neighbor, Kiri Ando, caught the car on her security cameras as it drove away from the scene. While the cameras did not catch the car hitting Jake, the lifted, tan Suburban SUV can be seen speeding by Ando’s house as a flurry of feathers fly in its wake and as two slower cars follow behind, swerving to avoid Jake’s body. After watching the tape, Ando and her neighbors believe that the driver of the tan SUV hit Jake on purpose.
“There are speed bumps, and it’s a neighborhood street,” Ando said. “It’s hard to go so fast you don’t see a two-foot tall bird.”
However, Citrus Heights Police Lieutenant David Gutierrez said that while the police don’t want people to go driving around and hitting animals, it would be “hard to show intent based off of the video” and it would be a misdemeanor offense at best.
Residents, and Ando in particular, are working with animal control to try to bring the situation to a resolution.
The rooster’s death has been particularly difficult for one resident of Cross Drive. Royce Carlock, 75, had developed a special friendship with Jake, and would feed him in the mornings while they sat in Carlock’s garage.
“He was just special,” Carlock said. “I could whistle at him and in about 10 minutes he would come. I’d leave the garage door open and he would come eat with me.”
Carlock said that he was very angry when he heard about Jake’s death, not just because the rooster had been killed, but because he knew speeding was not an uncommon occurrence on his street. But mostly, he said, he will miss his friend.
“Everybody misses him,” Carlock said. “He was a special chicken. The kids would stop and take pictures with him and pet him. I do miss him because he was a good old boy.”
Carlock said that some neighbors have brought him food and condolences after Jake’s death. His daughter, Kim Keyser, said that the loss was particularly hard on Carlock as he had just lost his wife to cancer a few months earlier. Hope was even thinking about collecting some of Jake’s feathers that are still blowing around the street and making a collage for Carlock to hang in his garage.
Since Jake’s death, many of those who loved him have taken matters into their own hands and are trying to track down the car that hit him. Ando made posters with a photo of Jake and of the car that they believe hit him in the hopes of getting information about the driver. Hope even said that when she saw a similar car drive by a few days ago, she followed it in the hopes that she could ask the driver if he or she knew anything about Jake’s death.
Hope said that while she is angry about the way the neighborhood pet died, what she wants most of all is an apology and an explanation from the driver who killed him.
All searches for the SUV in question and calls to authorities aside, residents say that most of all, they just miss their friend. It is a feeling of mourning, rather than anger, that has taken over the block.
From a neighborhood that once boasted 30 or more chickens roaming the street for the last couple of decades, all but Jake have died in the last year or so. Some have been hit by cars, some have been killed by cats, and others have just disappeared, residents said.
With Jake’s death, Ando said that the street has lost something very special.
“Our mornings are a lot quieter now,” Ando said. “It’s sad.”
Ando and her neighbors have asked that anyone with information about the car that ran over Jake call Ando at (818) 233-2517.