Man with concussion drives 18km after hitting moose


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May 20, 2012
The local RCMP say it’s not uncommon for motorists who have suffered a head injury to go into a trance-like state and keep driving toward their destination. Cpl. Desmond Mollon said he has dealt with one case and heard of others from colleagues.

It was around 5 a.m. Monday and Tom Canning was driving to his salmon fishing spot in northern Newfoundland. A car passed him, going in the opposite direction on the highway. Its windshield was smashed and the roof was almost completely ripped off, but somehow, it was still cruising along at 100 km/h. He got a glimpse of the driver and swore the man had no head.

Canning looked in his rearview mirror and saw the car swerving in and out of the oncoming lane.

“I had to stop him, one way or another,” he said in an interview Thursday.

So the fisherman turned his car around and started to chase the tattered blue Toyota. He followed it for two kilometres, going as fast as 110 km/h, until he saw a tractor-trailer coming toward them. Canning watched, helpless, as the car skipped over the yellow line and into the truck’s path.

“I don’t know how he stayed on the road,” he said.

The car dipped back into the right lane and stopped, waiting for the truck to pass so it could make a left turn onto a gravel road.
“I blowed me horn and I jumped out and I ran towards him,” Canning said.

When he got to the car, he saw the driver did, in fact, have a head — but it was so covered with blood and moose manure it was barely visible. There were moose organs in the car and a moose hide big enough to cover a table.

“I said, ‘Hey buddy! Hey buddy! You got no roof on your car.’ That’s the words I said. And he stopped. … He was buried in blood. He was horrible to look at. Terrible mess,” Canning said.

Neurologists and emergency room physicians attributed the phenomenon to “post-traumatic amnesia” brought on by a concussion.

“What that means is they’re not really laying down memories,” said Dr. Brian Levine, neuropsychologist and senior scientist at Baycrest Hospital in Toronto. “The brain isn’t able to create a stable memory for the events, even though they can act and carry out action sequences, like, for example driving.”

It’s common in athletes, Levine said, noting that NFL quarterbacks have reported playing in games with concussions and having no recollection of what happened on the field.

Newfoundland man drives 18km in wrecked car, cannot remember hitting moose: ‘Hey buddy! You got no roof on your car’ | National Post