In February 2004 I attended an evening memorial service at Ashford, WA, near the Longmire entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. As I prepared to leave and drive home to Tacoma, several local residents warned me to watch for elk. I headed my Honda Accord on the two-lane highway toward Elbe and Tacoma. Minutes later my drive in total darkness was shattered by several elk running across the highway directly in front of me. The last elk tried jumping the car but landed on the hood and crashed into the windshield, leaving it in shattered sheets. The force of impact blew out the right rear window. Blood and glass smashed into to the front and rear seats, narrowly missing my face but hitting the headrest just to the right of my right ear. The elk bounced off the top of the car into the darkness. The car came to an immediate halt though I didn't have time to even hit the brakes. The car continued to run, so I decided to try driving home after stopping at the Elbe general store to leave my business card for WSP. I made it home by viewing the road through the left edge of the shattered windshield. The car was determined to be a total loss. The store owner called me later to say the elk was found dead on the roadside. He and others told me residents often have highway encounters with elk and deer. I realize that I was extremely fortunate and that had the timing been slightly different, the elk would have run into the side of my car. Now when I drive in the areas near the Cascades, I try and keep a sharp eye for elk or deer. But also I hope my luck holds, knowing these wonderful animals car appear suddenly without warning.
Surviving highway encounter with elk
By: dickfergusonSubscribe Channel: On the Scene Location: Ashford, WA, near Mount Rainier