'Lucky' to survive cow encounter

Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A Dunedin driver who crashed into a cow woke up in a smoke-filled car with an 18-wheeler truck bearing down on her.

Rachel Covey, pictured being comforted yesterday by friend Stephanie Smith, both of Dunedin, was driving north on State Highway 1, near Moeraki, about 7.30pm on Friday when ''all of a sudden a black cow jumped out in the middle of the road''.

She remembered slamming on her brakes before her beloved Mini Cooper smashed into the cow.

The 26-year-old awoke to find airbags had been deployed in her now wrecked vehicle, which was fast filling up with smoke.

Grabbing her cellphone, she fled the vehicle, fearing it would explode.

With no lights coming from her vehicle, she looked in horror to see the lights of an 18-wheel truck - followed by a convoy of vehicles - fast approaching.

''So, I stood in the middle of the road flashing my cellphone so he could see me.''

Miss Covey said the quick-thinking truck driver flashed his lights in acknowledgment ''then swerved to avoid me''.

One by one, the other vehicles came to a halt, and ''if people didn't stop then the accident would have been 10 times worse''.

Miss Covey escaped with scratches, bruising and whiplash from the Friday night crash, and did not require hospital treatment.

''Everyone has said I was lucky to survive ... the police, the fire brigade, ambulance officers, witnesses, all can't believe I walked away.''

''I will definitely buy a Lotto ticket.''

She believed the low height of her car was a major reason she was unhurt, as the cow was forced up over the bonnet before striking the windscreen and ''going over the top and behind me''.

''I am not going to drive anything but a Mini Cooper from now on,'' she said.

Miss Covey said she was heartbroken to hear the cow, which was later put down, had been distressed as her calf had been stolen just days earlier.

''I feel really overwhelmed ... it could have ended so differently.''

Elk? Roos?

Diamantina: "When I read travel blogs about New Zealand, I constantly come across the advice."

"SH1 may be a motorway..."

You give the impression that you may not be familiar with the road in question. While not a motorway, SH1 is far from a rural backroad and the section around Moeraki is a very pleasant, well-sealed 100kmh drive. I've driven that section of road hundreds, possibly thousands of times and never once encountered a cow or any other large beast.

Your original post is applicable to areas of the US or Australia where wild animals roam freely and share the roads. But all of the farms bordering SH1 are well-fenced and the chances of hitting any animal are next to zero.

Of course we should all drive cautiously - that's common sense at any time of the day or night. But the tone of your initial post appeared to blame Ms Covey when she is clearly not at fault. In fact she appears to have handled the situation much better than most young drivers in shock would have. Her reactions in a difficult situation deserve praise rather than criticism.


Lucky, yes

Of course, I'm happy she survived and that no one else was hurt. This does not diminish my belief that people should drive more cautiously at night - how could you argue with this? When driving in rural Australia, one must watch for kangaroos crossing the road, and in the U.S. or Canada, for deer and elk. When I read travel blogs about New Zealand, I constantly come across the advice: avoid driving after dark through rural areas. SH1 may be a motorway but it still crosses through rural areas. 

Jumping cow

Did the cow actually jump into the middle of the road? I can believe that it walked into the road.

High viz jackets for cows

Thank goodness this poor woman is OK after meeting such a rough thing on the road. Animals are so quick and unpredictable in new enviroments and they stop your car very suddenly when they dart in from the side. Well done for flagging down the truck so no more had to happen. Great presence of mind.

Did well

Your comment is a little disingenuous Diamantina. This was State Highway One at night and the animal was black. Not many drivers in that position would have your apparent lightening fast reactions or your uncanny ability to see in the dark. Ms Covey did well to alert other drivers and avoid an even worse pile-up.

Well done

Wow, it certainly wasn't the driver's fault. I can't understand how you could blame the driver (see previous comments) - this young lady had the presence of mind to warn other motorists and possibly prevent more carnage.


Diamantina: because animals are highly visible, right? And that accidents don't happen?

Jumping cow

Really? All of a sudden a cow jumped out into the middle of the road? People should take better care when driving after dark, as it's more hazardous.

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