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DEAD BIRDS ON STREET PUZZLE POLICE, RESIDENTS

SHARE DEAD BIRDS ON STREET PUZZLE POLICE, RESIDENTS

Frank Iacobellis wondered why police blocked off Saratoga Road Sunday evening as he pulled up to a squad car.

A Utah County sheriff's deputy told him there were about 70 dead starlings on the road, another deputy was ill and that investigators were looking for a possible gas or chemical leak.Residents on the street were also held up at the roadblock.

Authorities also had put Provo's hazardous materials team on alert. They called Tooele Army Depot where chemical weapons are being destroyed some 50 miles away. And the Lehi Fire Department donned oxygen masks to check out the dead birds. It appeared they had a real mystery on their hands.

Until Iacobellis spoke up.

The Sandy man and his stepson, Nick, were driving down Saratoga Road about dusk for some twilight goose hunting when their pickup encountered a "swarm" of birds.

"It was like night and then day again," he said as the birds pelted his truck. Nick Iacobellis said he was afraid the birds were going to crash through the windshield. The grille of the truck was filled with feathers and bird remains.

A deputy happened across the dead birds a short time later. After checking out the birds, he reported to police dispatchers that he was sick, prompting investigators to descend on the scene looking for toxic chemicals.

After finding none, said Utah County Fire Marshal Tom Wroe, they figured out that deputy became ill from an earlier incident he investigated - a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Iacobellis was mildly amused at all the commotion while he waited patiently for officers to clear everything up. At least the hunting excursion wasn't a total loss. Iacobellis shot one goose before police detoured his outing.