Tina the Turkey dead after getting hit by vehicle in south Columbia
COLUMBIA - The turkey which captured a lot of attention - and created some frustration - in a south Columbia neighborhood died Friday. People held a vigil as a way to remember Tina for everything he has done for the community.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Tina the Turkey was hit by a vehicle Friday morning. Social media posts suggest Tina's body had been removed by 9 a.m.
Tina - who was a male, despite the traditionally female name - first came to people's notice when he was seen wandering around Chapel Hill Road and Forum Boulevard in early 2018. He was known to chase down cars and show up uninvited on people's porches.
At one point, Tina's traffic disruptions led conservation officials to consider relocating him. Some in the community resisted the idea, saying they'd gotten used to Tina's presence and worrying he might end up in the sights of a hunter.
A Facebook page dedicated to Tina posted the following message Friday morning:
"It is with broken hearts that we announce the passing of Tina the Turkey. Tina was hit and killed by a vehicle along Chapel Hill this morning and this was confirmed by a personal phone call from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Tina, you brought a lot of joy to those that got to witness your daily antics and silly personality. We are so sorry your environment turned out to be too urban for you. The Department of Conservation and us so badly wish you could have lived your life out in peace outside of the city limits. You will be missed and our drives down Chapel Hill and Forum won’t quite be the same. RIP Tina!"
After hearing the news, members of the community hosted a vigil for Tina. Dozens of people showed up at the intersection of Forum Boulevard and Chapel Hill. Multiple people shared their own personal stories about Tina. They talked about what they loved most and what they’re going to miss the most about him.
A U.S. Navy diver even came all the way from Japan just to see Tina after his friend, Jake Walthall, who is also in the Navy told him about Tina the turkey. Katsuyoshi Ichinose said he saw Tina just a day ago.
“I never see a turkey in Japan,” Ichinose said. “But I saw him yesterday, so I was so excited to see so I took a picture of him but he passed away today so kind of sad.”
"It was very heartbreaking to find out the next day Tina passed away," Walthall said.
One person said even though he never got to see Tina in real life, him and his fiancé still kept up with Tina every day on Facebook.
“The turkey brought joy and happiness so we could laugh,” Elbert Pollion said. "It brought laughter. In a world like this, we need to laugh.”
A group of friends organized the vigil. Audrey Cantu, one of the organizers, said a lot more people came than what she expected.
“I really had no idea so many people would come or that people would be as emotional as they were,” Cantu said. “I’m really glad I did it because I got to see how much Tina affected each of them and that they all got to make those friendships and bonds with one another for Tina’s sake. It just meant a lot to me that Tina affected more than just me.”
Billy Ellison and Mark Boyd also helped organize the vigil. Ellison said Tina brought happiness to the community.
“There’s women crying, like I enjoy Tina but this bird touched their lives," Ellison said. "It’s crazy that a turkey, of all things, would have that effect.”
Cantu said Tina has been a positive mascot for the community.
"I think it's really important that we pay our respects to that and just the positivity and happiness and joy he brought to everyone," Cantu said.
(This article has been edited to include additional information.)