Police in Newfoundland and Labrador say a crash between a car and a moose claimed the life of a teenage girl. Bay St George RCMP say four young people were in the car when the crash occurred late Saturday night on a highway in Stephenville, a community of about 6,700 on Newfoundland’s west coast.
Police say a 13-year-old girl in the front passenger seat was found dead at the scene.
The 17-year-old male driver and two passengers in the back seat of the car — another 13-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy — were out of the car when emergency responders arrived and were taken to hospital. The driver was still being treated for injuries on Sunday afternoon, but is believed to be in stable condition.
Cpl. John Butler says alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash, but police are not ruling out speed as a contributing factor.
“It’s very tragic. In a small place like Stephenville, kind of everybody knows,” Butler says. “Everybody’s trying to cope with it.”
The moose was also killed in the crash, Butler says. He says according to another officer at the scene, the animal was not very big, but even a small moose can cause serious damage, weighing between 380 and 700 kilograms on average.
Butler says moose are more likely to be on the move as the days get cooler.
“They may have been walking slowly … but then the lights of the vehicle will come upon them, and that will cause them to bolt,” he says. “Because they’re on pavement … they sometimes slip, and everything you’ve done at that point to avoid a collision is now null and void.”
Butler says his division can receive anywhere between three reported moose crashes in a night and none in a week. He said he has had around six “close calls” while driving, bringing him within feet of the massive animals.
“It comes down to split seconds, and how lucky are you today?” he said.
Between 500 and 600 moose-vehicle crashes are reported annually in the province, with five to 10 serious injuries per year and an average of one human death.