No one wants to ever hit an animal with their car. Besides severely maiming or killing the animal, the impact will likely cause significant damage to your car or even physical harm to you. Many thousands of animals are hit and killed every year by vehicles. Some of these accidents are as ‘routine’ as hitting a deer on a poorly lit, winding road at night to extraordinary incidents of careening over a guardrail to avoid running over a baby tiger. Some accidents are fantastical; some are very common; all are tragic. Here is one example of a crazy car to animal accident.
The Grey Wolf
Driving along a dark, rural road in the dead of night with only your feeble headlights illuminating the unfolding pavement in front of you, your eyes strain to focus. The pine trees tower on either side of the road and diminish your car with their sharp, pinnacled height. You take each curve with precision, maintaining a comfortable forty miles per hour coasting speed around each gentle bend.The radio hums at a low volume and you breathe deeply and crack the window to let in some of the cool night air.
Your eyes feel heavy and your pupils expand and contract every time a pulse of light from your headlights strikes a road sign and reflects back. Then darkness returns and you squint into the windshield and habitually click on the high beams. As you cruise up a small grade and crest the top, you can see the lights of town a few miles ahead. You’re almost out of the woods. As you begin the descent and feel the weight of the car fall into the pull of gravity, your speed increases slightly, you lay back into your soft seat, and prepare for the final sharp bend before exiting the densely forested stretch into an open, street lighted landscape.
The curve appears and you slow down slightly to take the flexing, right leaning parabola of asphalt. As you pass around the final blind angle you see a flash of grey light, a contorted face, you swerve violently, and before you are conscious of what is happening, a loud thud and crunching of metal. Suddenly the glass of your windshield pops and splinters and you are struggling to stop the car. Your hands grip the wheel to stabilize the car, your foot slams the brake pedal, and in an instant your car has skidded helplessly into the trunk of a large spruce tree. The dead force jars you as the seat belt locks, the airbag burst into inflation in a cloud of white particulate matter, and the only sound is a hissing of the engine and a faint moaning from afar.
You compress the airbag, look around the car, perplexed, undo the seat belt and open the door. You gather your wits for a moment and step out of the car. You realize that you are in a ditch roughly fifty feet from the road. You see the tire marks leading from the road to the tree along with a trail of debris, crushed plants and small trees. Your car is totalled and is in a heap of crumpled metal, broken glass, and leaking fluids against the unbudging arbor force of nature. You follow the sounds of moaning and make your way back to the roadside. There, you find a large grey wolf on its side whimpering in pain.
The animal’s leg appears to be broken, but there don’t seem to be any other visible injuries. You gaze upon this incredible creature, the size of its skull, the power of its jaws, the perceived agility in its movements–the cause of your accident. You ponder that your car barely struck it on the hind leg as it darted across the road. Immediately you phone the police. After some time the police arrive with animal services. They tell you the wolf will live and that they can set its leg and eventually release it. Your car is not so lucky; it will probably be put down. In the tow truck on the ride into town you consider the circumstances of that encounter, sigh, and finally shut your eyes.
by Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn writes on home restoration, property reconstruction, and astounding tales of cars hitting animals.