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CanadaCamaro involved in apparent collision with bison in Wood Buffalo National Park

17:36  23 may  2019
17:36  23 may  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Several drivers travelling through Wood Buffalo National Park during the May long weekend passed a grisly scene.

Two dead bison — one bloodied and battered, the other on its side further off the road — and a smashed-up red Chevrolet Camaro.

The distinctive, two-door sports car had a black decal on the side, styled after the U.S. Air Force roundel. When Kathy Lepine and her mother came across the scene shortly after 8 a.m. on Sunday, the windshield was caved in, the body of the car was severely damaged, and what looked like a sleeping bag was draped over the driver's seat.

"We saw the buffalo upside down and kind of mangled, followed by the red car with the star on it," said Lepine.

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The pair was near Nyarling River, which is about 140 kilometres west of Fort Smith, N.W.T., when they pulled over to investigate.

"Being from the North, you always stop," said Lepine.

They were worried. They didn't know if someone was hurt, or if there was a body.

"I don't think I've ever seen a vehicle accident so fresh and that bad," said Lepine. "The whole front end of that vehicle was toast, like it was crushed."

There was no one inside.

"Nobody was injured to the point where they required an ambulance, to my understanding," said T.J. Moore, protective services supervisor in Fort Smith.

Moore couldn't offer more details about the crash, but said park staff might have more information.

The Wood Buffalo Park spokesperson was out of the office on Wednesday. Questions to Parks Canada remained unanswered by day's end.

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Camaro involved in apparent collision with bison in Wood Buffalo National Park© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting CorporationThis Chevrolet Camaro with New Jersey license plates appeared to have been involved in a collision with bison near Fort Smith, N.W.T. (Submitted by Kathy Lepine)

'I told him to be careful'

Brian Dragon works at the Petro-Canada gas station at the Salt River First Nation near Fort Smith.

He recognized the wrecked Camaro with the black star in photos that circulated this week on Facebook.

"I gassed him up at the gas bar," Dragon said. He said the driver rolled through at around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"I asked him where he was going and he said he was heading out of town," said Dragon. "I told him there were a lot of buffalo on the road and I told him to be careful."

The driver was a young man, said Dragon, possibly in his late 20s.

What stood out to Dragon were the car's New Jersey license plates.

"I thought, what is he doing here?" said Dragon. "Why did he come all the way up here from New Jersey?"

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'Who's this guy?'

Jane Sunderwald was camping in the park with three friends last weekend. They saw the Camaro pre- and post-collision.

The group was stopped on the road Saturday afternoon, waiting for a herd of bison to clear out.

"[We] saw in the rearview this exciting red Camaro rocking up from behind us, so we instantly were like, 'Oh interesting. Who's this guy?" said Sunderwald. They noted the car's big, black star, New Jersey plates, and "fully tinted windows," including the front windshield.

He has clearly no idea how risky it is to drive through a herd of bison. - Jane Sunderwald

She said the car paused briefly before finding a gap among the animals and driving through it. After waiting a little for the bison to move, Sunderwald's party also drove through.

That's when they saw the Camaro again as it turned around and headed back toward the herd.

"We were like, 'Wow. He has clearly no idea how risky it is to drive through a herd of bison," said Sunderwald. "Or perhaps he does not care."

The campers saw the wreck on their drive home to Yellowknife, at around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, as well as two dead bison by the side of the road.

One of them, said Sunderwald, "had been hit from the front. Part of its face was blown off and its hide underneath its chest was torn off."

It wasn't clear what happened to the other one. "We were thinking it would be very hard to kill two bison with one smallish vehicle," she said.

Several calls to the RCMP's Wood Buffalo detachment on Wednesday went to voicemail.

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