KAYSVILLE — Natalie Clements couldn't believe what she had just witnessed.
She was driving on I-15 when two people in a pickup truck ahead of her started throwing things out the window.
"I saw something come out of the car and I just thought it was a plastic bag. By the time I caught up with whatever they had thrown out of the car, it was flopping," she said.
Clements quickly discovered that what had just been tossed from a moving vehicle wasn't a bag, but rather a cat and her four baby kittens.
"I started to freak out," said Clements, a self-professed animal lover. "It made me almost instantly sick."
Clements was driving north on I-15 near Kaysville about 4:35 p.m. Wednesday, when two people in a maroon F-150 about six car lengths ahead of her tossed items out the window while traveling about 60 mph.
"I was really surprised no one else stopped," she said.
She got off at the next exit, turned around,and found the kittens on the shoulder. The mother and two kittens that hit the pavement were killed instantly. Two other kittens that were tossed into weeds and bushes were alive. Clements, in her flip-flops, said she walked through the prickly sticker bushes and collected the kittens — an orange and black one — both small enough to fit in the palm of her hand.
"The cats were just covered in weeds from rolling," she said. "They were cuddled against each other. I didn't know if they were hurt bad because they wouldn't stand up all the way."
Clements placed the kittens in her car and called the Davis County Animal Shelter. Workers there directed her to their facility. A team of veterinarians was standing by when she arrived.
Tracy Roddom, assistant shelter director, said the kittens — estimated to be between 8 to 12 weeks old — were scared and shaken, but otherwise in good physical condition. They were given vaccinations and were ready Thursday to be adopted to a caring family.
"I think it's just horrific," Roddom said of the incident.
Anyone who doesn't want a pet anymore can drop them off at the shelter rather than abandoning them or tossing them out of a moving vehicle, she said.
Clements had tears of joy Thursday when she was told the kittens would be OK.
"It makes me feel really good," she said.
She also encouraged people to use a shelter, "instead of being a coward or being as (destructive) as these people were," she said.
"I think it was really gross. And I think the people who did it are really, really, really evil."
The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $2,500 reward for tips leading to the identities of the people suspected of dumping the cats. Questions can be directed to the organization's Utah director, Sundays Hunt, at 801-455-8118.
Anyone with information on the vehicle or the suspects can call the shelter at 801-444-2200.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company