Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014

Survivor of crash with moose grateful for kindness of strangers

By Viviane Vo-Duc and Sandra Yi, Deseret News

Published: Mon, March 31 6:02 p.m. MDT

 James Gamble, 61, had cuts to his face, a broken nose, a broken right wrist and several broken fingers in his left hand after he collided with a moose while driving west on U.S. 40 near Strawberry Reservoir Saturday night. He had surgery Sunday and was released from Intermountain Medical Center Monday afternoon.

James Gamble, 61, had cuts to his face, a broken nose, a broken right wrist and several broken fingers in his left hand after he collided with a moose while driving west on U.S. 40 near Strawberry Reservoir Saturday night. He had surgery Sunday and was released from Intermountain Medical Center Monday afternoon.

(Eric Betts, Deseret News)

MURRAY — A West Valley man was doing remarkably well Monday after surviving a weekend head-on collision with a moose.

James Gamble, 61, has several injuries but says he’s extremely grateful to people who came to his aid following the accident. He suffered cuts to his face, a broken nose, a broken right wrist and several broken fingers in his left hand.

“I’ve never broken a bone before in my life, so I’m making up for lost time,” he said Monday with a laugh.

He had surgery on his left hand Sunday and was released from Intermountain Medical Center Monday afternoon.

Gamble was traveling west on U.S. 40 near Strawberry Reservoir about 8:30 p.m. Saturday when a moose entered the road in front of his car.

“All of a sudden in the road is this gigantic moose, and I could hardly even react,” he said.

The moose was thrown onto the hood and smashed the windshield before going over the car. The moose didn’t survive.

Gamble said it felt like he was in the Twilight Zone.

“It was total disbelief, shock,” he said. “I was trying to get out, I guess to flag somebody, but I ended up sort of rolling out. And since it (the car) wasn’t in park and the brake wasn’t on, and I was on an incline, it started rolling back and it caught the top of my shoe.”

Several people stopped to help Gamble. Dacia Jackson, a Vernal resident who came upon the scene after the accident, said she rounded a curve in the road and saw a "mangled" white car and a man sitting roughly 30 feet away covered in blood and broken glass.

“It was hard to tell the exact nature of all his injuries,” she said, explaining that she kept him warm in her vehicle until the ambulance arrived.

She couldn’t stop thinking about the man she had helped, she said Monday.

“I couldn’t find his last name. I remembered his first name and was almost Facebook-stalking him. I’ve got to find this guy,” she said. "I’ve got to find out if he’s OK.”

Jackson was relieved to hear Gamble was doing well. Her kindness brought Gamble to tears.

“I wanted to thank everyone who stopped to help, especially her,” he said, getting choked up. “She just really helped to calm me down. She got me into a warm vehicle. It was freezing, and I was just shivering out there on the road.”

Gamble said this weekend wasn't the first time he has had a near-death experience. He was in a bad car accident a year ago. His vehicle was T-boned and was considered a total loss.

He was shot in the head during a robbery of a 7-Eleven at 910 N. 900 West in Salt Lake City in 1993. Two juveniles took about $19 in cash, then shot Gamble in the face. The bullet shattered Gamble's jaw and lodged in his head, narrowly missing his spinal cord.

“There must be some reason for me to still be here,” he said.

He’s not only lucky to be alive, but he’s also very generous. Gamble puts his heart and soul — and maybe some blood and guts — into Halloween displays every year, transforming his entire home into a full-size haunted house called the Mad Scientist's Laboratory. He does it for charity.

He has limited use of his hands right now, but hopes to make a full recovery in time to plan and set up his haunted house in a few months. He said working on the lab is also very therapeutic for him.

“It’s kind of an outlet for me to just take my mind off these other things,” he said.

Email: syi@deseretnews.com

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1. Shimlau
SAINT GEORGE, UT,
April 1, 2014

I'm glad he's ok, and that there are still people around to help when needed. I just want to give him one word of advice; Bullets are cheaper than cars, and I hope he doesn't get a ticket for killing a moose out of season, or without a permit!(tounge in cheek)

2. Deserthiker
SALT LAKE CITY, UT,
April 1, 2014

I am glad there was not more serious injury in this case. I can attest to the dangers on our highways from wildlife. I've been driving Utah's rural and backcountry roads my entire life. I consider myself a good, careful driver. Despite exercising due caution, I have collided with 2 deer ( at the same time) and an elk. In both cases there was no warning and little reaction time when the animals suddenly appeared on the road. Both incidents occurred in the evening just after dusk. In both events I was traveling well under the speed limit because of concern about animals in the roadway, which did give me enough time for slowing and limited maneuvering to minimize impact. My passengers and I escaped injury, though my vehicle was pretty banged up in both encounters. My point is that the danger of encountering wildlife on our roads is higher than many drivers appreciate. An elk or moose coming over the hood can have lethal consequences- something we should all keep in mind when driving in the back country.