Wesley and I were on our way home from Jurien Bay and were halfway home (it’s a 45 min drive) when suddenly in the blink of an eye a teenage sized/aged emu dashed out in front of the car. It was only maybe 10 feet ahead when it chose to that exact moment to run across. I didn’t have enough time to stop before we collided.
This is the only thing I’ve ever hit with a car. On the way this morning I’d stopped to pull a dead kangaroo off the road and slow down for about 3 separate bobtails as they scuttled across the road. I was one of those people saving the little creatures or giving them a more dignified resting place (sparing other drivers having to swerve as well).
They say when a moment impacts you emotionally it can slow down and time can feel as though it has come to a stand still – though science explains this is just you reliving the moment. Today it’s fresh and it only felt like a flash of time maybe 2 seconds – but if I recall this moment and the 25 minutes after I hit the emu in a year or so it might seem like every millisecond can be accounted for.
What plays over the next 25 mins will stay with me for the rest of my days.
I was driving 10km below the speed limit which significantly spared our car from any damage. We were very lucky. The bird was not. It had hit the ground severely and as I cut the engine and pulled over to the side of the road I could see it was sadly still alive and very badly injured.
It was very stressed, breathing heavily and every so often it would thrash and kick it’s legs. I opened the car door so Wesley could have fresh air as I decided what I was going to do about the dying bird. I knew I couldn’t leave it in this state.
It would be a long slow death on the hot pavement. The underside of it’s torso was torn open showing it’s yellow fat and red flesh both exposed through the feathers by the impact of the pavement. It made me sick to my stomach.
Sadly it also couldn’t walk, but it was trying so hard to get up. I couldn’t get close but it was going to cause an accident if it stayed where it was. I called Mike to see what I should do, but no answer. Then I rang Tessa and she suggested the ranger.
At this point a number of cars had slowed down, and a couple of them had stopped to see if we were ok and took a look at the car and watch the bird closely. One younger guy was really kind and stayed with me the whole time as we tried to track someone to help the bird.
Eventually a police car rolled up and then two officers came out to see what they could do.
For anyone who deeply loves animals like I do perhaps this is a really good time to exit this story.
The male officer asked if there were any babies, and I said no. At this point he whipped out his baton and extended it. I realised he was going to try and stun or kill it with the weapon. I looked away and said to myself “Jesus christ!” as I heard the dull thud of the two crashing together. I thought it was all over when I turned to see the officer dragging the bird from the road into the gravel and then bush.
Making sure Wesley was still comfortable I was partly distracted when the sound and shock of three gunshots went off.
There was silence, and then the cars all left.
I got in the drivers seat and sobbed for the dead bird. I felt just awful. I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent it from happening and yet I was also relieved that Wesley and I were ok. If we had come or gone any sooner or later this might not have happened.
Emu’s are beautiful and yet oddly stretched out and quite terrifyingly dangerous if you ever manage to see one up close. They are not known for their intelligence, and I just wish it had seen the car approach and decided to wait just a second longer.
Have you ever hurt or injured a large animal in your car? How did it go?
Obviously I did not take photos – but as I often post pleasing colourful images – I thought I’d include these donkey orchids from a few days ago to sort of soften the horror of what’s happened today.