October 27, 2013 in City

Clark: Drivers share close encounters with wildlife

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The other day, I told you about my nightmarish collision with a big female moose that galloped in front of our new pickup truck on a recent Friday night a few miles south of Colville.

My tale evoked a flurry of emails and phone calls from readers who were glad that my lovely wife, Sherry, and I had come through such an ordeal without serious injuries.

Others wanted to share their own encounters with local wildlife.

Carol Siegenthaler, for example.

On a slightly foggy fall day, she wrote, a suicidal deer ran smack into the right fender of her 1989 Toyota 4Runner on Bruce Road.

Siegenthaler pulled over. Another motorist stopped and helped pull the bent fender away from the tire.

Far less helpful, she wrote, was the woman who showed up and began complaining that the doe was “still alive in the ditch.”

“I said to her, ‘What am I to do, give it CPR?’ ”

Note to drivers: Attempting to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on any injured animal may get your nose bitten off.

Ron Sayler’s email was a hilarious cautionary tale about how life has changed after his wife hit a deer while driving to Spokane from Colville.

“Now she’s a nervous wreck and won’t go anywhere out of town except for the rare visit to see her elderly mother,” wrote Sayler, who is considering extreme measures.

“I have thought about shooting the wife with a tranquilizer dart before we go ’cause she scares me to death shouting out deer-along-the-road warnings,” he quipped.

“That’s enough to make you want to drive head-on into a semi!”

Doug Kelley apparently had my nutritional welfare in mind.

He sent me a link to a news story about how Montana is joining 18 other states that allow citizens to harvest and eat road kill.

Steak car-car. Yum.

Washington, according to the story, is not one of those states.

I don’t have a problem with anyone who’s into dash-and-dent dining.

But after seeing the poor moose I clobbered, as it lay in a ditch in an undignified bloody heap, well, count me out.

True, I’m a huge devotee of grilling my meat. But NOT when the grill is attached to a bumper.

I feel a connection to those who wrote me. It’s as if hitting a moose and living to talk about it has put me into some sort of weird survivors club.

If that’s the case, there’s no question regarding who holds the club presidency.

He is Lamar Long, a geologist with an odds-defying distinction.

On Sept. 15, 2010, Long lived through not one but TWO separate moose mishaps (moosehaps?) within the span of a few hours.

All the best horror stories begin innocently, and Long’s yarn is no different.

Long, 63, is also a project manager for the Post Falls firm I-Minerals Inc. An Alabama transplant with the twang to prove it, Long has lived here since 1987.

On his fated night, he was attending a meeting in Lewiston. When it was over, Long hopped into a company-owned GMC Sierra and headed north on Highway 95 for Coeur d’Alene.

It happened just past the Mineral Mountain rest area, as Long entered the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation about 9:30 p.m.

Big female moose.

Running into the road.

WHAM!!

This part of Long’s story sounded eerily similar to the Clarks’ night to remember.

The air bags deployed. Long fought to keep his rig straight and away from sliding off the highway and into a ravine 150 feet below.

After disabling his horn, which wouldn’t stop blaring, Long used his cellphone to call 911 and summon help and a much-needed wrecker.

Shaken but OK, Long surveyed the situation.

The moose was dead. The GMC was totaled.

Geology isn’t usually so exciting.

Long called Gary Nelson, his best pal and co-worker, who agreed to meet him at the impound lot in Plummer.

Any normal story would end here.

But Long, alas, had entered an Animal Planet version of “The Twilight Zone.”

Nelson arrived in his Dodge Dakota. After transferring Long’s gear, the pair set off for Coeur d’Alene.

This time Long almost made it to Worley.

A bull moose had been grazed by a PT Cruiser and was kneeling dazed in the middle of the highway.

Nelson had slowed at the sight of the Cruiser but couldn’t avoid the mammoth moose, which they broadsided at 50, a few minutes before midnight.

WHAM – THE SEQUEL!!

“Two dead moose and two air bag deployments with no injuries within 2 1/2 hours,” Long said. “Now can I say it’ll never happen again?”

He forgot to add two trashed trucks. According to Long, his buddy’s Dakota was totaled, too.

Long added that Nelson’s wife thought her husband was joking when, needing a ride, he woke her up with a phone call and told her what was going on.

You can’t blame her.

And Long?

“I was just freaked out,” he drawled. “I couldn’t believe it.

“Somebody out there was looking out for me.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com.


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