“I Was Not In an Accident”

Another story that really needs the photo to drive it home (or to work).

A reader sent me the story, and I said “Eh, kind of humdrum” — until I saw what the driver said, which made the story worth telling. And then I saw the photo, and knew it was truly True fodder.

Trust Me: read the story first, from True’s 13 May 2012 issue, before scrolling down to the photo:

The What?

When Michelle Higgins arrived at work in Gander, N.L., Canada, co-worker Cindy Paulson said, “My god Michelle. What happened?” Higgins was confused. “Nothing, what are you talking about?” she replied. “Michelle you were in an accident.” Paulson said. “No, I was not in an accident,” Higgins said. But there was no denying it when looking at her car: the windshield was smashed away, and the roof was peeled back to the tops of the rear seats. Paulson convinced the bleeding woman to go to the hospital. There, Paulson says, doctors tested Higgins’ memory, “Like what’s your name, your date of birth, where do you live? She knew everything like that. The accident was the only thing gone.” Investigators determined that Higgins had hit a moose, apparently at a fairly high speed: her neck was broken, and “my forehead has a scuff mark that we are thinking may have been caused by the moose’s hoof,” Higgins said. She still doesn’t remember the crash. (RC/CBC) …She probably doesn’t really want to.

And Now, the Photo

Photo of very damaged car.
“I was not in an accident.” Well, maybe she was…. After hitting the moose, Michelle Higgins drove cross town in this — and arrived at work on time! (Photo released by Michelle Higgins)

I think her right wiper blade might need to be replaced.

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68 Comments on ““I Was Not In an Accident”

  1. My best friend’s brother was stopped driving the wrong way on the interstate late at night in NY state. He was tested for drunk driving and passed. When they looked over the front of his car carefully they found a scuff. It turns out he had hit a deer, crossed the median and didn’t realize it had spun him around to the other side (this was before the reflective markers). Fortunately it was the middle of the night and he hadn’t endangered any other drivers.

  2. Wait, her *neck* was broken? And she was ambulatory? Yeowzers!

    Yep: two fractures in her neck, which definitely doesn’t always mean the spinal cord is damaged. Luckily, for her it apparently wasn’t. -rc

  3. WOW! Very remarkable, I hope she has a prompt recovery all the same.

    I agree the passenger’s blade needs replacing, and so does the passenger-side mirror.

    Sure enough, I missed the mirror. Just goes to show how hard it is to spot damage sometimes. -rc

  4. Must have been some major double-takes by other drivers seeing her proceeding on her way to work aftwards. Looks like she’s lucky to be alive. I think I’d just as soon forget a moose coming at me too.

  5. Boy, I’d like to see the moose that hit that car.

    Just mix some hamburger with some stew meat and bone chunks, and you’ll get the idea. -rc

  6. Many years ago, on the first day of deer season, my husband was sideswiped by a buck on his way to work. Fortunately for all, the deer was just stunned, and the rear triangular (immobile) window was the only thing broken. The hard part was explaining to the guys at the NJ State Motor Pool that a buck had tried to climb into the back seat of Beloved Husband’s car, and that’s why the window needed to be replaced!

  7. My only thought while reading the story was that that car model and year has my vote for auto safety!

    I wish I could tell what the heck it is! -rc

  8. Ineteresting story, she was very lucky indeed. I was reminded of when my daughter had a deer committed murder/suicide by dashing into her car in the wee small hours while she was on the way to work.

    The deer was killed, and so was her car. The impact to the front side of her car knocked the battery off into the engine. It was not able to be fixed. Luckily she was not injured. She quickly pulled to the side of the road to calm down and looked in her rear view mirror to see what in hell happened.

    The kicker of this story is that someone apparently saw what happened, and stopped and put the deer in his vehicle, and drove right past her without checking if she was hurt or whatever.

    This lady was lucky that the people noticed right away… because if you don’t see them, they are not there.

  9. @Laurie: According to Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters (Episode 101, April 2008), apparently, that is what it pretty much what it looks like if you hit a moose in any car while driving full speed.

    In any case, according to Canadian News website TheSpec, it was a Chrysler Sebring.

    Another detail in that report, that wasn’t in my source: the distance from the crash to work was 38 km — 23.5 miles. Or, more than half an hour of driving. What a spectacle that must have been! -rc

  10. For a low car like a Sebring, a moose would have had its legs knocked out from under it by the front bumper, hit the windshield with its body, and roll up and along the roof, pulling the roof back as it slid. The body would still have been in one piece. The legs would probably be broken, and the animal may or may not have been killed (although its injuries might be ultimately fatal). A full-grown moose stands about 7 feet high at the shoulder, with 4 foot long legs. The woman may not have even seen the moose itself, just the legs. I lived in Alaska for a few years, and saw first-hand the kind of damage these huge animals can wreak on a small- to mid-size car. Even a semi can lose an engine block if it hits one hard enough.

  11. Reminds me of when I was first learning to drive, some 30 years ago. I was a college student in Boston and rented a car to visit my parents in NY. At the start of the ride open, I misjudged lane width and sideswiped a garbage truck that was blocking three of the four lanes. Fortunately, no one was hurt, the truck was unscathed, and I had full rental insurance, but the right side passenger door was knocked out of the frame and peeled back to the lock mechanism.

    Somewhat freaked, I called Avis. They deemed the car still driveable and told me to bring it back to Boston.

    On the way back, I noticed that other cars were staying well clear of me. I had earned the Massachusetts token of honor: a dented car, with a vengeance.

    And, when I got back to Avis in Boston, they had only one question for me: “Is the gas tank full?”!

  12. That’s what comes from living on the far eastern edge of the western world — tough conditions make strong people.

  13. Wow! It looked even worse than what I had pictured in my head when I first read the story. Now I’m even more baffled that ms. Higgins didn’t even notice the missing most of the top half of her car, and that her car had suddenly become “convertible” (which it wasn’t originally). Also, if her car was in this condition, I can only imagine the sight that met her co-workers when she arrived for work.

  14. I live in the deer accident capital of the U.S. (my husband has had the pleasure of a suicidal deer smashing in the front of his car). I warn my family to be careful in wooded areas because the deer have a tendency to wait until you are almost even with them, then leap in a panic in front of you. But recently my neighbors encountered something different. Coming up over a hill, they were hit by a flying cow. Apparently it had been clipped by a truck going the opposite way just before they got there. Luckily they only suffered minor injuries, mostly from airbags, but their car was completely destroyed.

  15. 38 kilometers and yet no one seems to have called the police to report a seriously damaged vehicle being operated by an injured driver? I suppose it’s possible that no one saw her, but I doubt it. Sad to see that Canadians are as apathetic as we are.

  16. Déjà Vu! About 35 years ago I was an inexperienced motorcyclist out driving cross country. Two hours later as I walked into the house my wife shrieked, “What happened to you?” I had no clue what she was talking about. At about that time I noticed a piece of tail light embedded in my face shield. A few days later I tried to reconstruct what had happened. Apparently I had hit a rut & flipped end over end. The neurologist said I had a hairline skull fracture but no treatment was needed as long as I didn’t suffer any symptoms. I had a headache for a couple of days & that was all. To this day I have no memory of the accident.

    I am absolutely convinced that I would have been seriously maimed or killed had I not been wearing a crash helmet.

    Randy, in your career as a paramedic you must have seen a few accident victims who were otherwise lucid but didn’t know what had happened. But I suppose most of them eventually remembered the accident. I never did.

    Sure, lots of cases of memory or orientation loss. But none that I can think of that the person had no idea they were in trouble (medically), yet otherwise completely lucid and oriented. -rc

  17. Back in the late 70’s, I was going to see a friend who lived in Maryland. To get to his house, I had to cross the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel. I had just driven across the main span and was on Fisherman’s Island, just coming off an inlet bridge when to my right I spotted an enmorous deer jumping over across the guard rail across my path. At the speed I was driving, my vehicle would have been totalled. The deer was just as large as my car, a 1977 Plymouth Arrow. What a rack he had.

  18. -> Maygyver-Ohio
    RE: 38 kilometers of driving without being seen

    There are actually many parts of Canada, especially in our less densely populated provinces like where this happened (New Foundland), where rural commuters may be driving in to town for 30 minutes and not see anyone on the provincial highway. I lived in Northern Ontario for a few years, and when commuting from my small town of >5k to the one and only nearby ‘major city’ of Timmins, population 43k, I would often see less than FIFTY cars some days, and that’s after driving 65km (or about 40 miles) one way. Trust me, I counted many mornings when trying to stay awake by myself in the car, as there were just trees on either side, and the occasional small lake to look at during the drive. The amazing thing is that my route was actually one of the more commonly used ones to get into town!

    (Timmins is approximately 700km (430 miles) straight north of Toronto)

  19. And us Australians complain about suicidal kangaroos… mind you, one managed to hop straight through our bus door once, while we were doing 100kph.

    Yikes! -rc

  20. Hitting strange critters. Around here they use llamas in sheep herds to guard against stray dogs, coyotes etc. I was traveling about 50 late at night when a llama was in my headlights. I drive a Chevy Silverado 4X4 pick-up with a heavy grill guard. That llama did $3,000 damage and ended up on the hood where he kicked out windshield.

  21. Alisa from WV is right about deer waiting on the side and jumping right in front of you. That happened to me one night in the San Bernardino Mountains while I was riding a motorcycle at about 45 (yes, I remember it). I hit its shoulder, neck, and head with my leg and was knocked into the next lane, which thankfully was empty. After regaining control I went back to look, but the deer was gone. When I got home (about 45 miles away), I found a bunch of deer hair still stuck in my pant leg.

  22. Back in the early 80’s my Dad was going to a meeting in Flint, MI (about 60 miles from home) and was going to take my Mom with him, but at the last minute she got called in to work to cover for a sick bus driver. On the way to the meeting my Dad hit a large buck that entered the car and literally shredded the passenger seat of the 1978 Ford Pinto. Which would have held my Mom, except for the sickness of her co-worker. We count that as a lucky day for our family.

  23. A few years ago, a friend of mine veered off the road, and hit a phone pole, which then caved in the hood and roof of his car. He continued driving home, parked in his driveway, and went in to bed. A few hours later, the police knocked on the door and asked him about the accident. He had no idea what they were talking about and then he looked at his car. He was shocked at the damage. He ended up with a ticket and had to pay for the pole to be replaced but he still has no idea what happened. Minds are definitely capable of forgetting things that way.

  24. Wow! That’s an amazing story! She might be okay now, but what about in the future with her broken neck? I am wondering if the broken neck might have caused the slight loss of memory. I am also amazed she kept driving the car after it was damaged. I am thinking maybe she was ‘sleepwalking”?

    I am glad the lady is alright! As the her memory of the accident, maybe it will come to her in a dream? 🙂

    Necks aren’t known as a location for memory. In the future, her neck will be fine, just like broken arms are fine after they heal. -rc

  25. Being a recovering alcoholic and sober for almost 37 years, there were plenty of times I didn’t remember how I drove home the night before and had to do a walk around my car to make sure I wasn’t involved in an accident. Luckily I found damage only once, and it was to the trunk area. I finally remembered backing into the open tailgate of a large truck in a parking lot.

    Alcoholic blackouts are likely the most-common cause of not remembering driving around. But I don’t think that was the cause in this woman’s case! -rc

  26. Last year I was photographing a wall under construction in front of my house. I must have fallen off because I suffered broken ribs and a concussion. A neighbor helped me into my home and left because I assured him I was fine. To this day, I have NO memory of any part of this incident. My wife asked me what happened to me and when I said I had no idea what she was talking about she took me to the hospital. Apparently it is possible to erase recent memories with trauma. Photographs of me after this happened are jokingly referred to as ‘the time I was working as a Piñata.’

  27. About 15 years ago I was driving north on State Highway 421 next to Jefferson Proving Ground when a herd of about seven deer jumped the 11 foot fence and ran directly in front of me. I was driving an old IH ton truck with a full load of firewood and smacked the beans out of one big buck. Ruined him and the front of the truck, fenders crumpled, headlight and grill smashed, windshield severly cracked, but I wasn’t hurt. The State Police took the accident report and let me keep the deer’s carcess. Suprisingly, the radiator wasn’t messed up and I drove the 12 miles home. After I got there I had a delayed panic attack.

  28. I was driving home from work in a nasty, white-out snow storm when I suddenly found myself sitting on the wrong side of the road, facing the wrong way. My car was unhurt, and so was I. I drove home, shaking the whole way. It was many hours later when I suddenly remembered hitting a pothole and having the steering wheel jerked from my hands. Thank heavens I was the only one out driving on that road, nobody else to hit as I slid and rotated across the road. Even if you don’t get hurt, you can be so scared you blank out some things.

  29. Come on now, think BRAIN INJURY people! Scared certainly, but impacts of the type people have been posting about can/do result in brain injuries. Hopefully not causing other things besides loss of memory.

    The clue: the moose print on her forehead. -rc

  30. There are many known incidents where the person injured does not remember the accident that injured them. Sort of related to post-traumatic stress disorder: it’s too frightening for your brain, so it blocks out the actual incident for days, weeks, months, years.. who knows? I’ve been in the most populated city in N.L., St. Johns, and I must acquiese to Maygyver’s knowledge… it’s VERY rural in that province.

  31. I remember, from a Psychology class, that it is very common for people to forget up to 15 minutes before and after a traumatic event. I once had a job where I drove home 35 miles in rural Michigan. A deer came at my car from the left. I swerved to avoid her and it took a long time to get control of my car. I was lucky that there were no other cars on the road at 2 A.M.

  32. While driving on a 2 lane road through a wooded area, two deer popped out of the cover and milled about in the centre of the road. I stopped a hundred feet away, saw some cars approaching from the other way, flashed my lights at them and they also stopped a similar distance from the two deer. Almost immediately four more deer popped out and they all disappeared into the cover on the other side of the road. I like to think that the first two were acting as traffic police.

    When jumping in front of cars, there’s no such thing as only one deer. -rc

  33. Here in the Middle East, the hazard is camels: not as heavy as a moose, but just about as tall with a high center of gravity and huge feet. They move at dusk and walk/run in a line, nose to tail. They are the same color as the desert and very hard to see.

    When you hit one, it typically comes through the windshield feet first. I know a man who was nearly kicked to death by a camel that tried to free itself after the accident.

  34. Reading the other comments reminds me of the time I was almost killed by a driver trying to pass in pea soup fog. If I hadn’t panicked and frozen, I’d have done exactly what he did (pulled over to the shoulder) and we’d both have been killed. Although I was only going about 30 (you couldn’t see much past your own headlights), he was going at least 50, and there’s nothing quite like being passed by two cars — one on each side. All in all, I’d rather hit a deer, having done that too (used to live in rural Nebraska). Don’t think I’d want to hit a moose though. The deer didn’t total my car.

  35. This is to Patrick in Indiana: Often trauma, be it physical or emotional, can cause your blood sugar to take a drastic fall.

    Years ago I was advised to get something to eat in case of an accident to bring my blood sugar back up so I would avoid a panic attack. The first time I was in an auto accident I did exactly that and it helped me to regain my cool and to think more clearly.

  36. I recall a friend who was showing off on his motorcycle, laid it over, and then went home. His wife was used to him coming in a bit late, so she didn’t think much of it. In the morning, he said he wasn’t feeling well, and would come in later. When he wasn’t at work by noon (they worked in the same office) she went home to check and took a good look at him. Then loaded him into the car and took him to the hospital where he had his jaw wired. I understand things were a little frosty around the house for awhile, and he wasn’t in a position to get many comments in. I’ll not say much more, but that his wife was a surgeon, and he should have known better. I suspect anything he might have forgotten from the incident was recounted to him in detail later….

  37. My dad once ran over a skunk years ago when driving the family car. The smell was terrible.

    I straddled one once, at about 50 mph. Didn’t smell a thing, but I was sorry for the guy behind me. 🙂 -rc

  38. A friend of mine a couple years ago had visited Madison Wisconsin, on his return trip to Iowa he swerved to miss a deer, and “bumped” his head on the door window. He complained of a persitent headache for 2 days. Sadly he passed away from the injury. And he DIDN’T hit the deer. The car showed no damage whatsoever.

    Likely a subdural hematoma or similar. An even minor-seeming head blow can be fatal, as your friend’s family learned. This is what hospital “observation” after a head injury is all about. -rc

  39. I have killed more deer (3) unintentionally with my Jeep Liberty on these NH roads than some hunters have with guns. My husband also hit one with the Jeep. I’m about ready to put some type of siren on it to warn the deer & other critters away! I saw a Ford Escort immediately after it hit a cow moose. Thankfully the driver was uninjured as the moose flipped over the car but the moose had to be put down by the game warden because at least 2 of its legs were broken. The state doesn’t post “Moose Crossing” & “Brake for Moose” signs for no reason!

    No, don’t do a siren: that doesn’t work! I was once going on an ambulance call; critical patient. But I had to turn the siren OFF because this HORDE of deer (as in, MUCH bigger than a herd — probably about 200!) started to freak out and swarm toward the road! It was really bizarre. But I turned it off, slowed down, crept through, and then hit it again once I got past. (The patient survived her overdose of opiates; we have a neat drug that counteracts it. She had stopped breathing.) -rc

  40. One of my college roommates told me of a time he was riding his motorcycle very early in the morning (3AM or so) on a paved country road. He apparently was going very fast, because when he hit the deer, he cut it in half…literally.

    His story was that he was riding an off-road or street and trail bike with the large clearance between the tires and the fenders. The front fender penetrated the deer’s side like a knife or something, then when the fork hit the deer’s spine, it snapped it in two.
    He wasn’t injured much, but when he went back to check, half the deer was on one side of his tracks and half on the other.

    I don’t advocate drinking as a survival strategy during auto accidents, but that is probably all that kept him alive. He was an alcoholic at the time in question.

  41. Injured and not know you need medical help? Sure, it happened to me.

    I was combining corn late one autumn and it had frosted over night. I filled the grain wagon from the combine first thing in the morning and then climbed up on the rim of the wagon to level the load before hauling it to town. I was about half way around the rim of the wagon leveling the load when I slipped on the frosted steel. At first I thought I was going to land on my sternum on the corner of the wagon, but I fell outside the wagon. I landed on my head behind the wagon and rolled underneath the head of the combine. I banged my forehead as I attempted to sit up under the combine.

    I rolled back out and sat on the ground for a couple of minutes in the freezing air and felt better. I got up, climbed back on top of the wagon and finished leveling the load.

    I drove the tractor and wagon up out of the field and stopped at my house on the edge of the field. My neck was sore and I wanted some aspirin. My wife shreaked as I walked in the door. It turns out that the impact with the ground had caused a gash in the top of my scalp. I was bleeding but it was running down my sideburns and dripping off on my coat without me knowing it. In the few minutes since the accident I’d lost a tablespoon of blood and that made a significant splotch on my jacket, but I wasn’t in danger of losing my life from it.

    I was sent to the clinic and immediatly ushered into a treatment room. The doctor and an intern came in and looked me over and determined I needed stitches. The doctor asked if it was OK if the intern put the stitches in. That was fine with me. If you don’t start you won’t ever get good.

    I laid down on the table with my chin over the edge so the intern could see the laceration. They did use some local anesthetic, but it didn’t dull the area so much that I couldn’t feel the intern’s hands shaking where his ring and little fingers rested on my scalp to steady his hands as he put the stitches in. So I told him stories and jokes while he worked on me. After 35 minutes of work the doctor came back in and looked over the work. I thought I must have been a lot worse off than I expected. The doctor concluded those three stitches looked OK, but one more was needed.

    He left and the intern put in the last stitch. My neck was sore from the accident and from hanging over the end of the table so I asked if I could sit in a chair until the doctor came back in. That was when I learned that I was the first patient that he had treated without the doctor being right there to supervise.

  42. While we don’t have moose in Tucson, we do have Whitetails and Muleys. Our house during my teen years was a half mile from the main road along a rutted single lane track. On two separate occasions along that track (at the same location no less), a deer charged toward my passenger side only to take a sailing leap over the hood. It was frightening, awe inspiring and humbling all at the same time.

    I think my saving grace both times was that the road was so bad that I couldn’t go over 20 mph, which was slow enough to give the deer time to react.

  43. My favorite accident story (since it turned out alright) was a year or two ago when my cousin was driving up from California to Washington to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. He was driving a somewhat rural highway late at night, when all of a sudden he hit… a horse. The horse got flipped up on his car and I believe went off the back. The car was totaled and so, we suspect, was the horse, but thankfully my cousin escaped with only scrapes and bruises. It’s hard for me to believe that someone would let a horse wander over the road like that; if nothing else, horses are EXPENSIVE, and that’s a lot of money to lose in an accident like that (the police officer that came to help him said that this was a common event).

  44. re: Memory Loss

    My father had an accident a while ago when he fell off a ladder. He claims he fell of the third rung from the bottom, but we doubt it — not only due to the damage he suffered.

    A neighbor had seen him set up the ladder, and then noticed he was away again — ‘probably to get some tools’, he thought. Several hours later, an ambulance came to pick up my dad, who was alone at home.

    We suspect he fell off one of the top rungs, crawled into our house, and passed out for several hours (he claims it was at most a minute or three), then crawled up the stairs a whole floor to get at the phone. Even with his injuries, the crawl cannot have lasted that long….

    Unfortunately, my mother was in hospital for some treatment of her own, and I was at work, so we’ll probably never find out what really happened, due to the memory loss.

  45. Another funny deer story: My friend’s son was driving his dad’s large Ford van when a deer leaped in front of him, totaling the van and instantly killing the deer. The attending police officer told him he could keep the deer, so he took it home and had his mom cook some of it for dinner. His little sister kept commenting on how good the meat was, and asking what kind it was. They did not tell her until after dinner that she had not only eaten deer meat (which she had sworn she would never do), but road kill.

  46. How could I forget my own deer experiences living in Indiana.

    About 25 years ago I was found wandering about a mile from my wrecked truck at the bottom of a ditch where a small creek ran through. I’m still missing about 6 hours+ from that time including selling one of my dogs a couple of weeks before. That area is a well-known deer run, so the theory is I tried to avoid a deer and ended up in the ditch instead. I now suffer life-long, post-traumatic migraines.

    Then, in about 2002, I was on my way home from shopping and had my three kids and three of our dogs with me after agility class. A large buck (so I was told, since I never saw it) leaped over a berm, hit the front of my Escape (which had less than 10,000 miles on it 8-O) and was bounced into the ditch. The scary part being that I had the moon roof open and if it had been *one* more second, it might have ended up in my younger daughter’s lap! As it turned out, it did $3,600 in used parts. This was the second deer hit for that poor car as the first one happened the winter before when one threw itself out in front of me and did $1,600 in damage. And one ran into the side of my husband’s car the week before, knocking off the driver’s side mirror and damaging the driver’s side door to the point that it couldn’t be opened fully. Ironically, he was at a full stop when the deer hit him. Our insurance company hated us.

  47. About 12 years ago, my wife and I were headed to Seattle for a morning meeting.

    Coming up out of the Columbia from Vantage the freeway climbs about 2,000 feet through open desert to the top of Ryegrass summit. As we came over the top, the view was magnificent-off in the distance, Mt Rainier was in all her glory, shimmering in the early-morning light. A bit nearer, a large herd of cow elk was running down the hill to cross our lane of the freeway.

    I started telling her, “Stop, stop the car!” She figured we were fine, since they were going to get across well before we got there; the trouble was, she hadn’t noticed the semi coming from the other direction.

    I started yelling at her, “STOP STOP STOP RIGHT NOW!!”

    Meanwhile she still wasn’t getting it…why, those elk were just fine — they were going to cross the road well ahead of us.

    I finally got her to stop -just- as those critters wheeled around to avoid the semi and headed back across our side of the highway…literally just a few inches in front of our bumper.

  48. “Just mix some hamburger with some stew meat and bone chunks, and you’ll get the idea. -rc”

    Thank you Randy you just made my day, I can barely type this because of the tears in my eyes and I am still laughing hysterically!

  49. Two brief tales somewhat related to this story:

    I was an airline stewardess 50 years ago, flying on pre-jet DC7C aircraft. After ground crews chased a moose off the runway, we landed to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska. The displaced pissed off bull moose returned, attacked our 100-passenger aircraft, kept us hostage onboard for over an hour, and finally left a plane damaged enough that they had to fly a replacement up from San Francisco so that we could continue our flight the next day to Tokyo.

    And: A friend was driving his pickup truck over Trail Creek pass near Sun Valley, Idaho late one snowy winter night, when an adult cougar launched itself from the uphill snowbank just as he drove by. The cat hit and broke through the windshield, and my friend dodged slashing claws, huge carnivorous teeth and a lashing 300 pound body as he shoved open the driver’s door to bail out. The truck went on down the road piloted by a screaming infuriated wild beast until it went off into another snowbank on a curve. The cougar died, the truck did not. A new windshield and a bit of a clean-up, and it was fine. Other than being shaken up and needing a change of Levis, so was my friend.

    Moral: Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

  50. Some of these stories are incredible. Reminds me of a number of times when I’ve had to park elsewhere when I see large numbers of geese in parking lots because of their propensity of attacking people.

  51. In response to “Robert in Missouri” — it seems to me that there’s a big difference between getting “goosed” and getting “moosed”….

  52. Agreed. Wild animal attacks aren’t something anyone wants to deal with, whether they are from bees, wasps, poisonous insects, snakes, large animals such as moose, bears, elephants, or sharks or any other kind of animal, though.

  53. Speaking for the broken neck portion of the story…My aunt Sally fell down some steps at church during a Ladies League Potluck. Everyone was around her, just worried, but she got up and said she was fine, kept doing what she was doing. A couple days later she was having some pain in her neck and shoulders and couldn’t get rid of a headache. She went to her Dr. He had her go and get some xrays and told her to go home after and he’d call her if the radiologist saw anything.

    The nurse phoned her the next day and told her to get to the hospital to meet with her doctor immediately. She walked into the ER and stepped aside because there were a couple of nurses hurridly wheeling a gurney out past her talking about someone bringing in a lady with a broken neck. She made a mental note to say a prayer for that poor woman and went to the ER desk to check in. They asked her name and when she told them, the clerk said, “Oh my God, your the lady with the broken neck!” She drove herself to the hospital and walked herself into the ER…the Dr didn’t want to freak her out by telling her over the phone and I guess he just assumed someone would driver her in. Needless to say, the ER staff got quite the chuckle out of the story!

    Aunt Sally was just fine, she had to spend a couple days in the hospital and ended up having to have some kind of surgery (I was a bit young to remember just what), but she came out of it good as new. People hear “broken neck” and pretty much associate it with death, but they forget that it’s not just your spine holding that big ball atop your shoulders…it has a pretty good support system!!

  54. I have two (or three) moose stories, depending on how you count them, and two deer stories.

    First (or first and second moose story): I was working in Ithaca, NY at Cornell. One of my colleagues wanted to see Maine, so he drove up there in his new VW bug (he had bought it that week) and hit a moose, which destroyed his car. He took the bus back to Ithaca and got a second new VW. The next weekend he went back to Maine — and hit a second moose, again destroying his car. As far as I know, he never had any desire to visit Maine again.

    Second (or third) moose story: I was driving my Honda Accord in Edmonton, AB, down a major 4 lane highway in the middle of town. As I was driving along, I looked up and saw a young (a yearling or two-year-old) towering above the car. If I had been going faster, I would have hit the moose in the knees, sending it over the top of my car. Fortunately, I was driving slowly enough (and the moose was far enough ahead of me) that I was able to stop in time — and was able to watch the moose amble away toward a new destination.

    First deer story — I was riding my motorcyle in California during rush hour just north of Monterey. Traffic (two lanes in each direction with no center divider) was travelling at 60 MPH. I was driving along minding my own business with two friends in a station wagon right behind me when I saw a dog bounding down the hill on my right. Great. My motorcycle was being chased by a dog during rush hour. Oh, well, I would soon out-drive it and was not worried. Until I noticed that the dog kept getting bigger and was well ahead of me rather than chasing me from behind. In the nanoseconds when this was all scrolling through my mind, the deer jumped off the hill in front of my motorcycle (I could have reached down and touched its tail, if my hands had not been frozen in shock on my handlebars), bounced across the road and disappeared down the hillside on the other side. My heart did not stop thundering in my chest for another two hours.

    Second deer story: a friend was driving home Ithaca, NY, to Rochester, NY, and hit a deer on the NY Thruway in a very large American car. The deer came through the windshield and hit her full on. Her doctor told her mother that he had never seen anyone survive after such extensive brain damage.

    Deer, and moose, are cute. But can be very, very dangerous when we interact with them in motor vehicles. Be aware!

    With regards to the memory lapses covered by multiple posts, I can speak from personal experience. I was in a MVA and woke up in the hospital 4 days later with a depressed skull fracture. The last thing that I remember is 4 hours before the accident. Short term memory is very fragile and susceptible to interruption. Loss of short term memory, following an accident, is very common. Sometimes it comes back. Many times it does not. In my case, it has been over 40 years and I have no idea what happened over those 4 days after the accident (and four hours prior to the accident), even though I was holding conversations with my mother in the hospital.

    This is the first time that I have ever put all of these disparate experiences together at one time and it is very cathartic.

    If we ever meet, we’ll be leaving in separate cars. -rc

  55. My Uncle Harold was an electrician back in the days of knob and tube bare wire in upstate New York. As a 20 year old he was riding a bike with two rolls of BX-L (Lead sheathed cable) worn like mexican ammo belts on his shoulders and across his chest. A car (Model T) forced him off the road and he hit a curb and fell off the bike. He kept working and over a month later started getting the shakes (like Parkinson’s disease) along with neck pain. When the doctor examined the X-rays he found Harold had been WORKING with a broken neck for a month, and it had healed in a way that was now pressing on a nerve causing the shakes. Nothing could be done in those days (break the neck again?!?) so he spent the rest of his 65 years with the shakes … but did precision machining for years and years, including stuff with a tolerance of 1/2 a thousandth of an inch. It was unbelievable to see him using a micrometer matching head and hand shakes in time so he could read the instrument and work! He died of colon cancer at age 66.

  56. About five years ago, just after I retired, my wife and I were leaving Cody, WY on US 14, headed east just after dark. About a half hour after leaving Cody, a small white-tail deer, probably a doe since I didn’t see any antlers, ran from the right side of the road directly in front of us. There was no way I could have stopped, and I had been told by my son-in-law never to swerve to avoid hitting a deer or any other large animal, because you could end up rolling the car. So all I could do was hold the steering wheel tight and hit it. I THINK I hit it, the impact threw it forward (60 mph) and then I ran over it. I stopped when I could find a wide place to pull off the road and checked the car. My wife and I were unhurt, but there was $7,000 damage to our 1-1/2 year old car. The right front corner of the car (headlight surround and grill) were completely gone, the right fender and the hood were buckled, and my wife’s door would not open properly. Oh, and there was a hole in the radiator so I couldn’t even drive to the next town. My cell phone would not hold a signal, so we sat on the shoulder for nearly an hour until a someone stopped and was able to call the state police. During that hour, more than a couple of dozen pickups, cars, and trucks went by and none of them would stop. When the tow truck finally got there to take us back to Cody, the driver said he had seen the blood on the road, but no carcass… someone had restocked their freezer, but wouldn’t stop to help us.

  57. Many years ago during my University days a couple of mates were driving to the snow here in Australia and hit a horse at speed.

    The horse made a mess of the passenger seat and windscreen of the car and the passenger emerged complaining of a sore neck and holding his head.

    When he was examined in hospital his neck was broken. Fortunately, he had massive muscles. His muscular neck may have saved serious consequences for him. He recovered completely.

  58. The comment about her being ambulatory made me think of of one of the “war stories” told by an instructor in an EMT refresher class many years ago. He said that he was at an accident one day, and they were extricating the daughter, while the father stood there watching. Then someone happened to look at him from behind, and realized his neck was broken. His head wasn’t centered above his shoulders. A couple of rescuers walked up behind him with a backboard and told him to stand very still. They backboarded him as he stood.

    Backboarding a standing patient is a commonly taught skill to EMTs. There’s a good example of why! -rc

  59. I have had several close encounters with deer while driving at night or very early in the morning here in New Hampshire or neighboring Maine and Vermont. The scariest one was about 25 years ago as I was driving my motorcycle north to a bike rally in northwestern Maine. It was about 5:00 AM, dawn was still a few minutes away, and I was traveling at a high rate of speed (probably 80 mph+) up NH route 16 toward the western Maine border. I became aware of movement to my right, and before I could do anything, a very large buck bounded up over the shoulder of the road and across in front of me. It was surely his lucky day (and mine) because there was no collision. If I had hit him, it is unlikely that either of us would have survived the encounter. After I had pulled over and stopped, I noticed several white hairs lodged in my left mirror bracket, presumably from his tail.

    At that time I was very aware of the damage that collision with a large animal could do. A couple of years before, while I and a couple of friends were traveling to a bike rally in western Canada, we observed the result of a moose colliding with a motor vehicle. We had stopped at a service facility about 50 miles west of Thunder Bay Ontario, to have a tire replaced on the U-Haul trailer on which we were carrying two motorcycles and a sidecar. Just as the mechanic was finishing the work on our trailer, he got an emergency call to retrieve another U-Haul trailer that had been involved in a collision with a moose. Since it was on our route, we followed him to the accident scene. It was a real eye-opener. The moose had jumped between the towing vehicle and the trailer as they were moving down the road at 50-60 mph. Although the towing vehicle was completely undamaged, the trailer (enclosed van type) was completely demolished. The box was totally flattened and torn from the chassis of the trailer. The moose, however, had walked away and had apparently survived. Needless to say, my friends and I drove very carefully and vigilantly for the rest of that trip.

  60. Speaking of broken necks…my burly 75-year-old brother-in-law fell out of a tree stand in the Gila Wilderness directly onto his shoulder/neck area. It was winter and he was quite layered up for the cold weather. He was impressably bruised, but had no other injuries. This remarkable man was bow-hunting in the wilderness at 75 years old and still ran a plumbing business and did re-roofed his house that year! We should all strive to be that kind of “elderly!” He has no memory of the fall from the tree.

  61. Driving round the UK you often see warning signs to beware of deer. I have often felt disappointed not to see a deer, but after reading the above comments I am now glad that British deer seem to be better at keeping away from cars.

    On the subject of memory loss my son went sledging with a friend and for some reason decided to go head first down the slope through trees, not one of the best ideas he has ever had. His hat fell over his eyes so he did not see the that tree jump out in front of him and gave him a fractured skull, but thankfully no lasting damage. The ambulance men were asking him questions and he had difficulty remembering most things and had no idea where he was or what he had been doing, including the fact that only the day before I had told him not to go down on a sledge head first, but he did know it was 3 weeks to the school ski trip! Unfortunately he could not fly or do any sport for 6 weeks. I think the memories of that day are still incomplete, I just hope he remembers never to go head first again and to wear a helmet.

  62. I had went to pick up my 4 year old son from his fathers. My daughter had rode up front over to pick him up. When he went to get in the car his sister was arguing that she wanted to ride up front. I am a stickler for children to be in seat belts. However, that day I had a migraine and told them that both could get up front and put both of them in one seat belt. (If I had decided someone was to be in the back seat it would have been my daughter).

    One mile from my home I see this deer beside the rode. There was probably 4 inches of snow on the road and I was driving a Cavalier. I started tapping the brakes and had ALMOST stopped when this deer jumped in front of the car.

    It hit the front of the car and all of a sudden I hear this loud noise in the back. I assumed someone had rear-ended me. By this time I was not moving at all. I turn my head around to see that this deer had fell into the back seat of my car. It was a big buck and its horns was wedged where the back glass had been. He was going crazy, kicking and ripping my back seat all to pieces trying to get out. It was only for about 45 seconds but it seemed like hours before he got unwedged and politely jumped out of my car and dove over a hill.

    If I had made my daughter sit in the back, there is not a doubt in my mind that she would have either been serious injured or dead.

    When everything was calm, my son starts crying and I said everything was okay and why was he crying. He said that now Santa Claus would have one of his reindeers and he wasn’t going to get any presents because we had killed one of his deers.

    Besides big dents in the hood, broken windshield wipers, ripped back seats, and of course the broked back glass, everyting was fine.

    I called into work the next day saying that I could come in until someone fixed the back windshield and my supervisor made me take pictures of what it looked like for proof of what happened. I litteraly had glass and deer hair on my front dashboard.

    We must have gotten a G.O.O.H.F. card that day 🙂

    Sounds like you need a new job. I’ve never had a supervisor question an absence. -rc

  63. I didn’t have much to add to all these experiences, but the comment about questions from EMS to determine mental acuity brought back one of my own memories. Years ago, my wife passed out on a sidewalk, and she came to while the paramedics were tending to her. She tried to insist that she was okay, so to make sure, they asked her some basic questions, such as “Do you know who the President is?”

    Her response: “Billy Jeff.” And so she was bundled off for observation. We had a hell of time trying to convince a doctor that “Billy Jeff” was our reference for William Jefferson Clinton who was, in fact, the current President at that time.

    Some medics have no sense of humor. -rc

  64. Moose are tough buggers. There’s a good chance the moose side of that crash in the picture just shook it off and wandered away, bruised at worst.

    There have been reported incidents of semis hitting a moose, and the truck gets totaled and the moose wanders away.

  65. Many years ago my brother, who was in college at the time, had come home for Christmas Break. The first Saturday he was home he was invited to a party out in the middle of nowhere (perhaps 25-30 miles from home) with a bunch of his friends from High School. We got a call about Midnight from a friend of our parents telling us our brother had put his car in a ditch off the highway on the edge of town. Naturally we raced to the scene ourselves to find my brother lucid and walking around almost like nothing had happened. I think he had a couple minor scratches and that was all, but the car was totaled.

    We asked him what had happened and he could not remember (or at least refused to tell us while claiming he could not remember). Alcohol was involved in this accident but he was not cited (this was 1979 and things were different then). To his dying day he could not remember what happened. The State Troopers who worked the accident reconstructed it to say that he had most likely fallen asleep at the wheel and veered over into the other lane and off the road. The car apparently flipped at least twice and landed right-side-up in the ditch backed in between 2 posts (there was no more than a foot of clearance on either side of the car from these posts. The Troopers also told us that, based on the damage to the passenger side of the car, that anyone who had been riding with him would have been either ejected or killed from being crushed. I was invited to go to this party but for some reason was not able to — most likely I would have been in the passenger’s seat!

    AS for deer stories I have 2. My dad and our neighbor jointly owned an old Dodge van. The neighbor initially bought it as a utility vehicle for himself and then my dad started borrowing it for camping trips and eventually they worked out a joint ownership agreement for it. Coming back from a camping trip a deer ran across his path and ultimately dinged the rear of the van, only causing minor damage to the van (built back in the days before fiberglass, plastic and aluminum replaced STEEL in the manufacturing of vehicles) and the deer apparently ran off. Even so we still called that van the “deer slayer.”

    The 2nd story concerns my (now) ex-wife and her Ford Aerostar Van. Jan. 1, 2001, just 2 hours into the new millenium, she had to go pick up her son from someone’s house (he had been supposed to sleep over but decided he wanted to come home). On the way home they hit a deer. The van had major damage but was still driveable (with only minor patching up we drove it for about 9 months before replacing it with a newer car and then sold it) and they had suffered no physical injuries, but they were both pretty shaken up by the ordeal.

    Since then I swear by the ‘deer whistles’ that you can mount on the front of your car. There are no moving parts and they do not put out a noise that humans can hear but the wind causes them to create a noise that deer can hear and it supposedly keeps them from crossing your path.

    What struck me as odd about the original story is how the driver did not at least notice the WIND and the fact that it had suddenly gotten much colder in the car (it was Canada in the wintertime which I can see from looking at the trees in the background).

    Well, it was mid-May: the story is dated at the top and the bottom both. I’ve tried the deer whistles, and have seen no evidence that they hear them. -rc


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