FORT KENT, Maine — A chartered bus returning from New York with the University of Maine at Fort Kent men’s and women’s soccer teams struck a moose early Sunday morning.
The moose was killed but the bus driver maintained control of the vehicle and stopped it without anyone being injured, Bill Ashby, UMFK athletic director and men’s soccer coach, said Monday.
The driver said he “saw a bull moose jump the guardrail,” said Ashby. “He had no time to react at all. There was nothing he could do. The moose’s head and antlers hit the passenger-side window of the bus and it was killed instantly. The window was cracked and damaged. I’d say the moose was about 1,000 to 1,200 pounds.”
The accident happened at about 2:15 a.m. on Interstate 95 just north of Orono, Ashby said, as he and both teams were returning from winning soccer matches against teams at the State University of New York at Canton.
“We were near mile marker 242, just above Orono,” Ashby recalled from his office on Monday. “I had my eyes closed and most of the others on the bus were sleeping.”
Ashby said that the bus belonged to Bayles Tours and Charter Bus Services of Old Town.
“We had just stopped at Dysart’s [restaurant in Hermon], and a new bus driver had gotten on board,” Ashby said. “We left the restaurant and the accident happened a short time later.”
Ashby said that a short time after he closed his eyes, he heard an “awful, loud crash” and felt the bus jolt. Most of the others woke up at the same time, he said.
Ashby said that Maine State Police came to the scene of the accident and filed a report. No one was injured and the bus was able to continue on to Fort Kent.
“We were delayed by a few hours and didn’t get back home until about 8:30 a.m.,” he said. “I really credit the bus driver. He kept control of the bus and was very professional.”
The collision with the moose was the only downside to the trip. Both teams walked away with wins — the men’s team defeated SUNY Canton 5-1 on Saturday, and the women’s team routed the SUNY Canton women 8-0.