The moral dilemma of the chicken on La Rumorosa

Leave frozen food on the side of the highway?

Video posted by Noticias TD
  • Video posted by Noticias TD

At about 8 am on April 19, motorists ascending La Rumorosa’s windy two-lane road witnessed a truck hauling a trailer plunge down an 80-meter embankment into a canyon.

La Rumorosa, a municipality of Tecate about 60 miles east of Tijuana, is a mountain pass more than 4,000 feet above sea level.

According to Mexican news outlets, the truck driver lost control by the 50-kilometer mark on the Mexicali-Tijuana 2D highway.

"The people of Baja should not do this because they know it is a crime."

"The people of Baja should not do this because they know it is a crime."

“They should’ve checked if the person driving was alive,” commented JM, “instead of gathering things together that weren’t theirs. Those people took advantage of the situation.”

JM was referring to the travelers that climbed down to the accident scene with a green rope affixed to a bent guardrail; formed a bucket brigade of “about six-or-seven” individuals; then passed bags of frozen chicken from the wreckage site back up the embankment.

JM watched a four-minute Facebook video of the accident aftermath titled (and translated) “Rapina in the Rumorosa after a trailer accident” that was posted by Noticias TD.

“Look,” Jordan commented, “[the bags of chicken] are for tomorrow’s big party and they don’t need to spend any money; Ramon agreed: “They are already roasting the chicken on top of the rocks.”

“This road has humbled many egos.”

“This road has humbled many egos.”

Victor, a Tijuana resident, doesn’t find the Noticias TD video as amusing. “What they are doing there is called theft,” he said, “and the people of Baja should not do this because they know it is a crime, and they can be stopped at the toll booths.”

A man in the video is seen climbing up from the accident scene with a box of bagged chicken and loading them into his red car.

“This car’s trunk is totally full of frozen chicken,” said the Noticias TD cameraman; a Channel 66 News (Mexicali) reporter pulled out a bag from the trunk to confirm it.

A few of the Noticias TD viewers commented that the chicken would go to waste if the motorists didn’t act fast. But Victor says it’s not the motorists’ responsibility to clean up the mess.

“FIARUM (the agency that runs the Mexicali-Tijuana 2D toll roads) clears the accident scenes and the thing is the company or insurer claims the product as evidence of the accident, and then the companies donate the damaged goods or resell it at a reduced price.”

“If it takes a long time, the chicken will spoil,” commented Olivia.

As the video neared the four minute mark, the Noticias TD cameraman zooms into the stack of chicken baggies surrounding two gray buckets full of raw chicken.

“All these transporters have insurance that covers the merchandise that they haul,” said Sylvia from Tijuana. “It does not affect them (the companies) in anyway when the people take [the chicken], because of the fact that the merchandise was on the ground and for them it is a total loss. It’s better if they (the motorists) take it.”

The Mexican news outlets said that the firefighters and Red Cross paramedics arrived within a few minutes after the rollover. The driver was said to have survived the 80-meter descent and was rescued from the wreckage prior to it catching on fire.

“It’s a dangerous road due to the wind in the region and the steep grade of the road,” says Eblem Torres of dangerousroads.com about La Rumorosa. “This road has humbled many egos.”

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If such a crash happened in the US, and we have them often, the cargo would be considered destroyed and unfit for consumption. That's typical US over-caution. If this chicken was truly still frozen, it might have been salvaged, and damaged or contaminated or not, sold in a supermarket within a few days. Do you want to eat chicken that was in a truck wreck? I don't. Therefore I don't see scavengers of the cargo as criminals. Just opportunists who won't waste the food.

I think theft is theft. If the person who owned the chicken said "Go for it," That's one thing. But helping yourself without permission is quite another thing.

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