“It could have been my daughter in that accident!”
Amanda Johnson is still in shock. Just as her daughter was in the obstetrics ward, she arrived at the emergency room as a result of a collision with a moose.
The collision happened on Highway 11 in the middle of Saturday night. The Campbellton resident was then on his way to attend the birth of his daughter at Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst.
Due to lack of resources, the Vitalité Health Network closed its obstetric ward at Campbellton Regional Hospital in April 2020. Since then, expectant mothers in this region have had to go to Bathurst Hospital to give birth.
The phone rang around 2:30 a.m. Saturday night. Mallory, daughter of Mrs. Johnson, was then a few minutes from the hospital in Bathurst. After three false alarms earlier in the week – which also required a trip to Bathurst – the delivery moment had indeed come this time.
“I wanted to take my vehicle, but my spouse told me it might be safer to take his truck, precisely because of the presence of moose in this area. I hesitated for a moment because of the price of gas, but I obviously made the right choice, ”she says in an interview.
The accident happened around 3:35 a.m. Saturday night on Highway 11, just before the Lorne / Nash Creek exit. This part of route 11 is not fenced.
“I drove quietly, precisely because I was nervous. We all know how many moose there are in this area. And suddenly there is someone who came out of nowhere and ran in front of me. I did not have time to react, “said Ms Johnson.
The impact was brutal.
The airbags deployed immediately. The tremor, however, did not seriously injure the resident. A few bruises and stiffness due to harness and airbags, hand pain due to the steering wheel … But above all a good scare.
Ironically, the first vehicle to arrive after the accident was that of her stepson’s parents, who were also on their way to the hospital for the birth. Ambulances and police also rushed to the scene. Road traffic was disrupted for a good hour.
As for the vehicle, it is out of service, most likely a total loss.
Fortunately, this whole mishap ends in a good way. Delivery has taken place and everyone is well. After leaving the emergency room, Mrs. Johnson was able to hug her daughter, but also the youngest of the family, her granddaughter Maddox.
Although the outcome of this incident is happy, it could very well have turned into a tragedy. Mrs Johnson knows this, and that is why she is today urging the province to take steps to rectify the situation. According to her, two options are needed: Either we continue to restore the lost hospital services, or we activate to secure this path once and for all.
“This is not the first time wildlife accidents have occurred in this sector and it will continue as long as nothing is done. There are moose, deer, bears … all sorts of things that throw themselves in front of your vehicle, ”she says.
She regrets that next time it may be a young pregnant woman involved in such a collision.
“It would be terrible if it happened, because you do not decide when it is time to give birth, day or night. In fact, an hour later, and it could have been my daughter on the road who hit that moose. And she only has a small vehicle, not a truck. The consequences could have been serious. She could have been seriously injured and lost her baby, ”Johnson said.
Ideally, the community would like the obstetrics service in Campbellton to be restored, as well as the other health services previously available in the region. In addition to supplies, the population is increasingly being directed to the Chaleur region for health care delivery.
Do not drive at night
These requests, Mrs. Johnson is not the only one who has put them forward.
President of the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Seniors Club in Campbellton, Colette Loire did not hide her anger when she was informed of this new accident in the Campbellton-Bathurst corridor.
“It is shocking, although unfortunately it is not surprising. It is a matter of time before a real tragedy occurs, ”she said.
His organization has also launched a petition calling for better access to health care and the return of lost services in the region. In just a few months, more than 6,000 signatures have been collected.
“There are wild animals, but there are also sections that promote aquaplaning, and in winter it is snow removal that is lacking. It would be much better if we could be treated in our region as it should be and as we are entitled to, ”she says.
The Restigouche Regional Service Commission, for its part, has made numerous calls to the province in recent years, both for the return of health services (especially obstetrics) and for the installation of wildlife fences. Its president, Brad Mann, assures that the organization is still pursuing this goal.
“We would like to review deliveries and other services in the home, that is for sure, but we are also aware of the situation of the workforce in the health sector. As for the fences, we continue to lobby the government. It is a file that we are adamant about, ”he says.
In the latest correspondence with CSR-Restigouche, Prime Minister Blaine Higgs rejected the request to add such a fence in the area. He had rather suggested to the citizens of Restigouche to avoid taking the road in the evening to reduce the risk of collisions with wild animals …