Smart Fortwo Vs. 900-Pound Bull Elk: Who Wins? Do Both Lose?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
smart fortwo vs 900 pound bull elk who wins do both lose

Elk. Majestic creatures, and delicious, too. You can cut that meat with a fork. But colliding with 900 pounds of it in the smallest car on North American roads is no one’s idea of a picnic.

That’s exactly what happened last week, when a tiny, first-generation Smart Fortwo went head-to-head with a bull elk on a dark British Columbia highway.

The crash happened outside of Comox, on B.C.’s Vancouver Island — an equally majestic land populated with mountains, abundant wildlife, ex-hippies, and perhaps, Sasquatch. Chris Markevich was behind the wheel of the Smart, and had momentarily turned off his high beams.

“I almost passed far enough where I could turn my high beams back on, and as I was going to turn them back on, it was elk – boom,” Markevich told CTV News.

After the impact, his car rolled four or five times in the grassy median, coming to rest upright. The Smart’s front end was destroyed and its windshield completely shattered. The elk exited the scene playing a harp. With both Smart and elk terminated, Markevich walked away with some minor scratches and seatbelt bruising.

Smart touted its “safety cage” technology when the diminutive vehicles dieseled onto the market a decade ago, and it’s those strong windshield pillars that Markevich can thank for avoiding a meal he couldn’t survive. Elk and moose are terrible things to encounter at highway speeds. A passenger car’s low front end will usually take out the animal’s legs, with the body impacting the windshield. The results aren’t pretty.

In this case, the vehicle’s small size and blunt front end, as well as the elk’s massive girth (it was winched onto a five-ton flatbed for removal) conspired to save the driver’s life.

“Because it doesn’t have a protruding bumper,” Markevich said, “the paramedics, police officer, and nurses and doctors at the hospital all told me if it were any other car, it would likely have hit it at the knees, and propelled it head-first into the windshield, impaling me.”

When your car saves your from impalement-by-animal, newfound affection for it is understandable. Marvevich said he plans to replace his totaled Smart with a new one, which is good news for the company whose Canadian sales numbers were in the three-figure range last year.

[Image: Oregon Department of Agriculture/ Flickr]

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  • Namstrap Namstrap on Jul 24, 2016

    bricolor1946: That Qualicum to Comox highway is right in my back yard. One good thing they did was to install elk fences with one-way doors along the highway. I'm sure it cuts down on accidents with animals.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jul 25, 2016

    When I saw the name "Smart", I assumed it would be a reasonably good outcome. They may be small, but they're pretty stout, thanks to the "Tridion" safety cell. I remember a picture going around via email several years ago, of a car smashed between a couple of dump trucks, ending up only a couple of feet long. People forwarding the email pronounced it as a Smart, but the five-lug, five-spoke alloy wheel visible revealed it to be a Chevy HHR. Not that the Smart would have fared much better, but that people were either predisposed to believe it was a Smart, or were intentionally mislabeling it as one out of hatred for Smart cars, or small cars in general. Here's the pic (scroll down), in this blog post from 2009:

    • Pch101 Pch101 on Jul 25, 2016

      Rolling a car is a very bad outcome. The odds that a rollover crash will produce a fatality are more than ten times higher than they are for a regular crash. The guy was lucky that the rollover didn't kill him. That's worse than the impact with the animal.

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