Missing cat found 100 days after NJ Turnpike car crash

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Pancho, via Facebook


Pancho and Puky (pronounced Pookie) got out of their carrier and became lost after a terrible car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in June.

Carlos Mattei and Olga Rivera had the cats with them as they drove on a trip from their home in Jacksonville, Florida to their son’s house in Boston. While heading north on the turnpike, their SUV was struck from behind. The SUV went off the road and into the woods and Mattei was ejected from the vehicle. Mattei’s injuries were significant and he lost part of a leg as a result of the crash.

The couple’s luggage and the cat carrier ended up on the ground outside the vehicle. The cat carrier opened on impact and the frightened cats ran off.

The couple began the search for their beloved pets from their hospital beds, starting the Facebook page that has been at the center of the search and getting the first volunteers who have helped with the effort.

Local residents put up posters, networked and searched for the couple’s two missing cats for 100 days before one of the cats, Pancho, was finally found.

The Pancho and Puky are Lost page at Facebook rallied support and helped to coordinate and inform on the search effort.

Bonnie Westbrook, who is also involved with Where is Jack?, has been at the heart of the search and decided to personally fly with Pancho to take him back to his waiting petparents. The flight was scheduled for today.

It was announced at the page on October 9 that Pancho had been found. He had joined a colony being fed by a woman who spotted him in a missing poster and contacted the searchers.

Bonnie Westbrook told the story of how Pancho was found at the Pancho and Puky are Lost Facebook page, writing, in part:

As for how we came to this point, I can only say (breathlessly) that a true miracle has happened! Our boy had found himself over TEN MILES from the crash site, either by paw or other means. He had hooked up with a colony of cats and was rollin’ with the homies for some time. A kind and gentle woman who has been lovingly caring for these beauties just * happened to * stop at a vet’s office she typically doesn’t visit and saw our flyer. She recognized the characteristic markings on Pancho’s body and the black dot on his right nostril and his sweet, sweet expression as one of the kitties she had seen as a newcomer. She called me and said, “I’m almost certain I have your cat.” Then she texted me pictures and I nearly fell off my seat. There was no way this was NOT Pancho!!! I forwarded the pictures to Olga and her text came back, “Panchoooooooooooooooooo!”

Entering the enclosure where Pancho was staying, I said, “Buenos dias, Senior Pancho!” He came right to me. When it was time to go, he walked all by himself into the carrier. OK, I cheated, there was dry food inside…

I cannot say much more about the Earth Angel who made this miracle happen, other than that her name is Theresa and she is a rescuer.

I MUST recognize our wonderful team who have been putting up those flyers and talking to everyone, following up on possible sightings and trapping, strategizing, consoling, doing battle for the unfortunate kitties who have crossed our path during this search to date and righting some wrongs to help them. We have more work to do, so I look forward to the “sillies” that have to happen to remain sane.

Bonnie’s full message to page supporters can be found in the linked Facebook post seen below.

The search for Puky continues.

Carlos Mattei and Olga Rivera via Facebook


I’m so sorry for the “pregnant pause” in our narrative! It’s been a whirlwind for the last 4 days, including a 5-hour…

Posted by Pancho and Puky Are Lost on Saturday, October 10, 2015

1 thought on “Missing cat found 100 days after NJ Turnpike car crash”

  1. Thanks for all the comments,pancho is doing good and happy to ve home,with us,and hopping puky will come home soon too, God Bless you all

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