Chris Markevich is crediting his Smart car for saving his life after a run-in with an elk on the Inland Island Highway July 14. He was on his way to Comox to get his wife from the airport

Smart car versus elk

Local man ‘flabbergasted’ to have survived late-night highway encounter

Smart Canada just made a customer for life.

Campbell River’s Chris Markevich was on his way to the Comox airport to pick up his wife Rebecca around 10:45 p.m. on July 14. He had turned onto Highway 19 at Willis Road, gotten up to speed and dimmed his high beams as a car approached in the oncoming side of the highway. When he clicked his high beams back on, there was an approximately 900-pound elk in his lane.

There was no time to react, he says.

“It was just elk, boom,” he says.

After hitting the animal, he and his car went airborne.

“At least it felt like it,” Markevich says. “I could hear the wind howling through my now-busted windshield. I must have been in the air for at least 2-3 seconds, and then I began to roll. I must have rolled about four or five times.”

It wasn’t the cliché “life flashes before your eyes,” scenario, he says. All he remembers is muttering expletives as he and his vehicle “bounced over and over again.”

When the car came to rest, it was right side up in the grass median.

“My first thought when I landed was, ‘I’d better get out of this car before it catches fire,’ so I very slowly opened the door, got out and started walking away.”

He spit a few pieces of glass out of his mouth and could feel blood on his head and hand, but he was, overall, remarkably unscathed. Thankfully, one of the people who stopped to help was a nurse who was on her way to her shift at the hospital, and she patched him up on the side of the highway as he waited for Rebecca to arrive via taxi.

They were transported to hospital as a precaution anyway, but he was quickly released.

They even walked home, as he and Rebecca live just blocks from the hospital.

So now he’s in the market for another Smart car.

“It’s a little bit of ‘who’s laughing now?’ for sure with my friends who mocked it at first,” he says. “When the paramedics and police came, they both told me that if it were any other car, it would likely have hit the elk at the knees and propelled it through the windshield and impaled me.

“I am absolutely a Smart car owner for life, now. It’s the reason I’m here today. I would be a fool not to get another one at this point.”

And it seems some of his friends may have changed their opinions, as well, based on the responses to his social media posts about the event.

Many, like him, said they knew they were safe cars, but had no idea they would hold up to such an event.

“It still plays back in my head and I’m flabbergasted I survived,” he said a few days later on Twitter. “I knew [Smart cars] were safe, but when I saw that elk I thought I was a goner for sure.”

“A lot of people see a small car and underestimate it’s [sic] safety,” Smart Canada responded to Markevich’s Twitter post. “We don’t. Happy it was there when Chris needed it.”