Pennsylvania Raccoon Road Kill Painted Over, Photo Goes Viral

A witness snaps 45 pictures of the raccoon to sell on Etsy

ByABC News
August 10, 2012, 1:52 PM

Aug. 10, 2012 — -- Something black with a yellow stripe down its center caught drivers' attentions in Johnstown, Pa., and it wasn't the road. An unlucky raccoon had not only become road kill, but its corpse briefly turned into a palette for a road crew's paintbrush last week.

"I was just riding my motorcycle home and saw it and did a double-take laugh," Sean McAfee, of Johnstown, told Friday.

"I drove my motorcycle home from work and I told my wife we needed to go back out with the camera gear," he said. "I thought, 'This will be a great Facebook photo.'"

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, however, thought differently.

"A mistake was made and it's getting quite a bit of attention and not in the right light," Tara Henry, community relations coordinator for PennDOT, told

The crew apparently discovered the road kill too late in the painting process on Aug. 2 and couldn't stop their machines in time to both avoid and dispose of it.

"Part of the [paint] line is stopped before they got to the raccoon," she said. "They did try and stop it. But they stopped it too short and turned it back on, and they ended up painting over it."

The three-vehicle paint train, consisting of a paint truck, paint supply truck and a foreman to pace traffic, was operating in what Henry described as a heavily traveled area. The crew couldn't turn around and pick up the coon, leaving time for McAfee's camera to swoop in and document the paint's prey.

McAfee said he took 45 photos of the raccoon from a variety of angles, then posted them on Facebook. His coworkers convinced him to submit a copy to the local paper, the Tribune Democrat, and the vermin went viral.

The photo was such a hit, McAfee has decided to sell 8x10 prints for $15 on Etsy, a website vendors use to sell handmade or vintage items, arts and crafts.

Since its debut, the animal's corpse has been removed from the road. A gap in the road's paint remains, however, homage to the void left by the raccoon.