Despite the efforts of law enforcement, Meteor remained on the loose until Friday, when his owner, Robert Cissell, received a call that Meteor was struck by a vehicle on Route 29, according to a statement Cissell posted to social media. The animal was severely injured and euthanized at the scene.
Cissell declined to comment beyond his Facebook statement, but earlier this month said Meteor was worth more than $1,000 at market.
“Our greatest fears all along have revolved around his proximity to a major highway,” the statement said. “We have spent untold hours searching the fields, forests, and mountains around the county, assisted by local authorities, veterinarians, and other community members, who gave their time and energy to try and help us bring Meteor home safely.”
Meteor was “laid to rest in a private location,” the statement said, and “his spirit is now free and has taken flight.”
Kevin Wright, the county’s animal control supervisor, said Meteor was found about 8:30 a.m. Friday.
“We hated that it ended this way,” he said. “The big guy went down.”
Wright said there were no witnesses to the incident, speculating that Meteor was hit in the early-morning hours by a commercial vehicle. If the animal had been struck by a small car, Wright said, the crash would have “destroyed” the vehicle.
“Whoever did it kept on going,” he said.
The Nelson County Farm Bureau paid tribute to Meteor in a social media post. The animal had been photographed behind the office of the nonprofit agricultural advocacy organization early in its run for freedom.
“So very sad to share the news that Meteor, the elusive, escaped yak, tragically met his end this morning after being hit along US29 in Nelson County,” the post read. “Meteor’s recent freedom excursion made local, national & worldwide headlines and forever earned him a place in our hearts. Roam free, Meteor!”
Laura Cooper, a member service specialist with the Farm Bureau, said her colleagues were saddened to learn of his death. She said the county flag was flying at half-staff at the county courthouse in tribute to the yak.
“Our community had grown so invested in the story of the escaped yak and hoped for a very different ending,” she wrote in an email. “We’re all heartbroken for Meteor and his owner who has suffered such a devastating loss.”