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A Moose, a Cruiser, and One Lucky Officer

A Maine lieutenant came away unscathed after her patrol vehicle struck a moose.

July 06, 2012  |  by Lynne Doucette - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Lynne Doucette.
Photo courtesy of Lynne Doucette.

Those of us living and patrolling in the northeast understand the dangers of moose in the roadway. An adult moose can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and stand up to 7 feet tall. So it's no surprise that a collision with one can be deadly.

It was early Saturday morning, around 3:15 a.m. on June 16, when one of my officers was called to assist the state police in locating Maine's largest animal, the moose, on Interstate 295. This type of call is a public safety concern because of the potential of dangerous crashes—a concern I would soon understand all too well.

My town's access to the interstate is located in the middle of a 4-mile stretch of highway between the two outlying jurisdictions. I entered the highway, and drove south at 35-40 mph, searching the double-lane roadway with my spotlight. I scanned back and forth with the light, looking for the animal. I covered 2 miles on either side of where the moose had been reportedly seen. I ultimately cleared the call, believing the moose had returned to the woods on its own. I turned off my spotlight and accelerated to highway speed, at 70-75 mph.

After driving another mile, I suddenly observed four large, gangly brown legs come into my headlight beams. I had enough time to process what it was, and the thought of "I'm f*%$ed" passed through my brain. I came down heavy on the brakes and swerved hard to my left. I heard the sounds of the animal crashing into the metal of the car and breaking glass. My world was closing in on me. When the sounds stopped and I knew my vehicle was no longer moving, I took stock of the situation and couldn't believe I was alive.  Moose crashes in Maine often end with the occupants seriously injured or worse; they are fatalities.

"10-50! 10-50 (meaning "police vehicle involved in an accident" in my jurisdiction)," I transmitted to dispatch, while I reached down for my emergency lights and turned them on. The last thing I wanted was to be hit by another car from behind.

At that point, I felt the adrenaline dump. Having been a cop for 15 years, I knew what it was and tried to control it the best I could. I took two deep breaths and exhaled slowly, trying to stay calm. I felt my heart pounding out of my chest, and my hands were starting to shake.

I realized my head was pounding—the worst headache I've ever had—and my neck was stiff. I also felt some abrasions from the glass shattering on my right elbow. I was covered in glass and hair, and I kept spitting glass dust from my mouth, but I survived the crash unscathed. I sat in disbelief that I wasn't badly hurt—thankful, but still amazed. Sadly, the moose was killed.

A moose's body stands taller than most car hoods, making them a real threat to occupants in crashes. If you collide with a moose at high speeds, the bumper and front grille will break the moose's legs, causing the body to fall onto the hood and delivering the bulk of the animal's weight into the windshield. Usually, this will crush the front roof support beams and anyone in the front seats. Collisions of this type are frequently lethal; seatbelts offer no protection from the crushing weight of the animal. Because the bulk of the collision is at the windshield or higher the airbags may not deploy.

As I looked around the interior of my car after the crash, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The windshield was smashed and hanging inside the car. The roof was crumpled back to the front of my lightbar, and it was caved in at an angle just 6 inches from my head. There I sat, in the only small area of the passenger's compartment that was still intact.

It felt like an eternity—in real time it was about 60 seconds—until I saw blue lights approaching. It was the most comforting feeling, seeing a brother in blue arrive. It gave me comfort knowing he had control of what I suspected was a horrific scene, and knowing he would handle it just fine in my absence.

This is surely an experience I will never forget.

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) P.D.

Tags: Animals Gone Wild, Police Vehicle Accidents


Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Tim Bush @ 7/6/2012 2:12 PM

Lynne, I am so glad you weren't hurt.

sylvie martin @ 7/6/2012 5:56 PM

Lynne, I'm glad you made it, also! You certainly did have someone looking out for you! Yes, I do believe in "Guardian Angles"! Keep up the good work!

Jorge Apolo @ 7/8/2012 1:08 PM

You are a lucky officer my friend..........................

Lt. Robert Tester @ 7/10/2012 4:41 PM

I would be more than thankful. I would be on my knees thanking the good Lord above for His intervention. Miracles still happen every day!

Frank @ 7/10/2012 5:16 PM

Your are extremely lucky! Go get a lottery ticket. Too bad for Bulwinkle.

john @ 7/10/2012 5:53 PM

Lynne;
Glad you made it OK. You are very lucky. I am a retired Massachusetts cop and had a similar experience. I hit two deer at about 65 mph. It is an unusual feeling.
Count your blessings and Stay Safe.

Robocop @ 7/10/2012 8:40 PM

Lynne my sister, get down on your knees LT and give thanks as you were exceptionally lucky. Sorry the moose went 10-7, and it looks like your unit too, but at least you were okay. Stay safe!

DaveSAM25G @ 7/10/2012 11:33 PM

Bad enough hitting a deer but a moose -Very lucky indeed...Best wishes forward...

FireCop @ 7/14/2012 10:01 AM

Lucky girl. As Frank said if it's legal for you to, go buy a lottery ticket. I remember years of driving around north of Superior and rounding a corner seeing these monsters on the side of the road; all the while praying they'd stay off the pavement. Huge is the best way to describe them. Be safe.

TeeJaw @ 7/25/2012 9:42 PM

Moose will stand in the middle of the road sometimes and not move until you either hit them or manage to avoid them. They also can bound out of the bushes but most moose hits are to a stationary animal just standing there. Be glad you’re not in Alaska where the moose are twice as big. Here are some photos from an Alaska moose hit that I’m pretty sure resulted in a fatality. <a href="http://teejaw.com/why-you-never-want-to-hit-a-moose-in-the-road/">Moose Crash</a>

andy @ 7/26/2012 7:18 AM

RIP and thoughts go out to RCMP Constable recently killed in car v moose collision in past week in Saskatchewan.

(http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Saskatchewan+RCMP+officer+dies+collision+with+moose/6965703/story.html)

Having worked in Northern Ontario and having had a few close calls with these beasts, as well as investigating any number of both PI and fatal crashes, the moose may lose but so do human occupants.

Mrs. Shivers @ 7/26/2012 2:33 PM

You are "BLESSED" beyond words!! God is Awesome...

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