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Car loses in car vs. cow

The cow won. A Citrus County couple lost a small-claims bid Thursday to have a county commissioner pay for the damage one of his cows caused to their car last October.

The cow, apparently spooked by a Citrus County Sheriff's Office helicopter landing nearby, had hopped a fence and collided with the couple's car on County Road 491.

No one was injured, and the cow walked away from the accident.

However, Jerry and Angeline Wright asked that Wilbur Langley, a Citrus commissioner and a defendant in the suit, pay the $1,825 in damages their car received.

In the non-jury trial, Circuit Judge William Edwards ruled in Langley's favor. Edwards could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Wright said he was "somewhat surprised that the judge ruled totally for the defense," acknowledging that this was "a strange case from the beginning."

Mrs. Wright was driving the couple's 1982 Ford Fairmont north on CR 491 about noon Oct. 3 when the helicopter landed in a field near Langley's property. Langley's cows, apparently disturbed by the copter, roamed outside the fence and began crossing the road.

One of the cows collided with the Wrights' car, court records show.

Victor Worshal testified Thursday that he was driving north on CR 491 that day when he noticed some cows crossing the road.

Mrs. Wright's car was creeping along slowly, and Helen Langley, Wilbur Langley's wife, was in the road trying to move the cows and stop traffic, he said.

Worshal said he saw the cow collide with Mrs. Wright's car. The cow "hobbled a bit" after the collision, he said.

Mrs. Langley testified that about 12 cows ran from the family field, which is about 500 feet from CR 491. She said she was in the road to stop traffic until the cows could cross.

She said she knew she could not stop the cows.

All the cars stopped, except for Mrs. Wright's, Mrs. Langley said.

Mrs. Langley said she turned her head when she saw Mrs. Wright continue to slowly drive along.

"I just didn't want to see her hit a cow," she said. "All I know is she didn't stop."

Wright said he was disappointed with the verdict.

"I don't think justice was served," he said. "I think the political system was served," he said, pointing out Langley's position in county politics and noting that the Sheriff's Office had been dropped from the case in January.

Wright, who did not hire an attorney but handled the case himself, said, "I had no sooner concluded my case when the judge ruled against me. I hadn't even sat down."

Edwards, he said, ruled that Wright had not proved conclusively that Langley was negligent.