‘Chicken Guts and Feet’ Shut Down Two Lanes of NJ Highway


New Jersey Department of Transportation workers were dispatched to clear a 200-foot trail of animal waste off the northbound lanes of Route 42 Thursday afternoon.

By Matt Skoufalos | May 13, 2021

Maryanne Falkenstein of Haddon Heights was traveling along Route 42 on her way home Thursday afternoon when traffic came to a halt.

“Everyone was going really slow, and I went over this sludge,” Falkenstein said.

“It was foul-smelling.”

She turned off the air conditioning, and pressed ahead past the I-295 interchange, where an even bigger patch of the same debris was in her path on the exit ramp.

Confusingly, the odor seemed to linger.

“Once I was in the neighborhood, stopping at stop signs, I could smell it everywhere,” Falkenstein said. “I got the best automatic car wash I thought I could get, and went home.”

But when she got out of the car, the smell was still there. Falkenstein went into the house to tell her husband what had happened, and by the time she’d decided to go back to the carwash, a swarm of flies had materialized around her vehicle.

“[The sludge]  was still just all in the wheel wells,” Falkenstein said. “It was crazy.”

After a second carwash, her husband attacked the mess with a long-handled scrub brush, a hose, and a heavy helping of Oxiclean. It barely made a dent in the stench. The entire experience put Falkenstein off her appetite.

“I haven’t eaten any food because everything has sounded terrible,” she said.

Without knowing what she’d ridden through, the couple began to worry that they might have hit a patch of chemicals. A call to the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) revealed an answer that was no less comforting.

“It was chicken guts and feet,” NJSP Sgt. Philip Curry told NJ Pen.

The offal had fallen out the back of a truck by Exit 14, leaving a 200-foot-long trail of slime that shut down the right two lanes of the highway while crews worked to clear it off.

“D.O.T. came out with a sand truck to soak up the juice,” Curry said. “They closed down the two right lanes, and they were reopened after.”

The identity of the vehicle that spilled the load was not known to police.

The only thing more confusing than learning that chicken guts are what’s stinking up the wheel wells of your Jeep is trying to figure out what to use to clean it out.

A customer associate with Aftermath, a national service that specializes in “trauma cleaning and biohazard removal,” recommended that the couple speak with a biologic cleaning company, or find an auto detailer with a keen eye and a strong stomach.

“We’ve had similar situations with human remains,” the associate said. “I would recommend contacting insurance about it.

“It’s definitely a unique situation,” he said.

Curry agreed.

“We’ve lost watermelons and some other stuff on the road,” the sergeant said. “Never chicken guts.”

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