“I’ve been a policeman for 31 years and I’ve never seen something like that,” said Capt. Michael Kellems of the LaPort County Sheriff’s Office, after the first of three accidents occurred involving wild turkeys colliding with cars on the state’s roads.
This first incident occurred March 28 when a New Jersey family was traveling on US 20, having visited their daughter at Notre Dame University. They were on their way to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in a rented car to return home. A 30 pound turkey was flying over the highway with three others when it crashed into their windshield, impaling itself and soon dying . The car’s occupants suffered minor cuts from the flying glass.
“Out of nowhere this turkey starts flying,” said John Tarabocchia, the driver. “I see the wings open up, coming right at me.” He said he thought the bird would clear the roof, but was wrong. The family was shaken, but he was able to pull over.
Capt.Kellems was most likely quite surprised the following day when another turkey collided with the windshield of Indiana State Trooper Tia Deaton on State Route 56 near Scottsburg. The bird slightly caved in the windshield, and Deaton was not injured. She said, “At first, I thought initially that I was going to be able to clear it. I thought it was going to go above my car.” She added, “I’m like holy cow! I can’t believe that flew right into my windshield!” Later on, she was quoted as saying, “I just never realized that they were a problem.” Asked about Thanksgiving, she said, “I think I’m going to go for ham.”
The third collision occurred two days later when Trooper Aron Weller was driving on Indiana Toll Road in LaPorte County. He was not injured, but the turkey expired.
According to Steven Backs, biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, turkeys are preparing for the mating season in spring, and are finding highways and other roads an obstacle and try to fly over them. If a driver encounters a turkey in the roadway, he or she should strike the bird rather than swerving, which may cause the vehicle to go out of control.