WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- A pet cat that went missing during a massive pileup on I-41 has been found dead.
Bastet's body was found Wednesday morning in an area where vehicles were towed after the crash, according to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office says owner Kevin Graves has been notified and he is working with the Great Lakes Veterinary Clinic.
Affiliate WBAY spoke with Kevin Graves after Bastet was reported missing. Graves was involved in February's 131-vehicle pileup in Neenah.
"We slid straight into the person, the car in front of us. That impact wasn't that bad. We got hit from the back; that one was pretty impactful. Then we got hit from the side, inwards; that smashed the hood, and I think that's where I kind of realized it was rather serious," Graves says.
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Wedged between multiple cars, Graves says the only way they could get out of the Ford Bronco they were in was through the shattered back window. And he believes his beloved cat, Bastet, startled from the crash, ran out that way, too.
"I know the cat jumped in front of my legs after the first collision. I kind of lost track of her after that, except seeing her run backwards after the second collision," says Graves.
Graves delayed his trip home to California to search for Bastet. He told us animal rescues helped set out humane traps near the highway. They searched the lots and contacted businesses along the stretch of I-41.
On Wednesday morning, news came of Bastet's death.
"Thanks to GLVC who assisted this morning, and who is graciously helping Bastet’s family today during their time of need," reads a Winnebago County Sheriff's Office Facebook post.
Kevin Graves posted this message on the Finding Bastet Facebook Page:
"Hello. I regret to announce that Bastet has been found dead. She is reported to have died that day of the crash, with the body getting moved with various small auto parts to the city garage. The chip has been confirmed, and her ashes will be sent to me in San Diego.
I really should not write about this now. I got the news a bit over an hour ago. But already, the stream of support has come in. And so, despite how distraught I am, and how many tears roll down my face, I do want to bring forward some good light. Because of her, and the efforts you all went through to help me find her, we have been bringing attention to tons of tabbies in the state. They are being sheltered now, adopted and returned, all as a fallout of people thinking they were originally Bastet. This community has been exceptional. The only good thing to come out of this.
I've had Bastet since she was 2 weeks old. She died at 2 years and 7 months. I just hope that I gave her the best freaking life I possibly could. That these past few weeks of running around in national forests and getting loved by people all around the country was a good end for her.
This tears me apart. I knew I escaped that crash too unscathed. It had to have done something to me that I couldn't see. Now I know what that was. I'm finding out about it 2 weeks later, but at least I'm finding out. Closure is good. It sucks and it hurts, but it is good.
I want to leave this with a remark to you all. You have been an active part in my search. You will forever have my eternal gratitude. It's great to see that level of care from people. My time with Bastet were some of the best years I could imagine, and even to the end, she helped make my life a bit brighter. Thank you all for the support, and for the time you have put in. I truly appreciate it, and I know she would have too.