Crashed front of a semi truck that collided with 2 cows in the dark

Case Study: Drone-Assisted Legal Investigation in Livestock Escape Incident


On the night of June 25th, 2020, a severe road incident occurred involving a collision between a Volvo semi-truck driven by Gabriel Olivares and two cows on the SR-59 highway. The cows were part of a group that had escaped from a nearby dairy farm, leading to the accident under poor visibility conditions. This case study explores how Southbay Drone Services was instrumental in providing crucial evidence for a legal case against the dairy farm by documenting the state of its fencing and gates through advanced drone technology.


The collision occurred at approximately 10:00 pm in an area with no street lighting, significantly impairing the driver’s ability to see the road ahead. Olivares encountered about ten cows crossing the road and collided with two of them despite his efforts to brake. The accident raised questions about the farm’s responsibility in securing its livestock and the adequacy of its fencing and gate systems.


The objective was to utilize drone technology to conduct a comprehensive survey of the dairy farm’s perimeter and internal gate system, explicitly targeting the conditions of the fences and gates. The aim was to gather evidence to establish whether the farm’s negligence in maintaining its barriers contributed to the escape of the cows and the subsequent accident.


Southbay Drone Services employed high-resolution camera-equipped drones to perform the following tasks:

  • Aerial Documentation: The drones captured detailed aerial photographs and videos of the farm, focusing on identifying any breaches, damages, or inadequacies in the fencing and gate structures.
  • Detailed Inspection: A zoom lens on the drone was used to get close-up inspections of specific areas of concern, such as damaged fences, unsecured gates, or other potential escape routes for the cows, to document the exact condition and potential for livestock to escape.
  • Evidence Collection: All footage and images were meticulously cataloged and prepared as evidence, highlighting the areas where the farm’s perimeter security could have been compromised.

Legal Implications

The evidence gathered by Southbay Drone Services played a pivotal role in the legal case against the dairy farm. It provided tangible proof of a high-risk gate system where a failure at only one point would compromise the whole system. It showed that the farm failed to adequately secure its livestock, leading to a foreseeable risk of escape and potential danger to road users. The documentation served as a basis for the lawyers to argue that the farm’s inadequate fencing system and gates directly contributed to the accident.


The use of drones by Southbay Drone Services in this legal investigation underscores the importance and effectiveness of modern technology in gathering evidence for legal proceedings. The aerial documentation offered an undisputed visual account of the farm’s perimeter conditions, directly impacting the legal case against the dairy farm. This case study highlights the growing significance of drone technology in supporting legal and safety standards, ensuring that entities are held accountable for their responsibilities and obligations to public safety.