A Jackman man has died of injuries suffered when his car hit a moose in northern Somerset County Saturday night.

John Coyle, 31, was on his way home from the Skowhegan State Fair with his family, who were in a car behind him on U.S. Route 201, when the crash occurred, according to Cpl. Eugene Cole of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

Coyle was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with a severe head injury.

Coyle was heading north on Route 201 at around 9 p.m. Saturday when his 2005 Subaru Legacy struck the moose, which flipped onto the car, crushing the roof and windshield, according to Cole. Coyle’s former wife and children were driving in a vehicle behind him and came upon the accident.

“It’s unfortunate that something like this happened,” said Cole, who said that the crash took place near a swamp in Johnson Mountain Township where moose can typically be found.

Early summer and fall are often periods of high activity for moose when they are more likely to make their way into the road, said Lee Kantar, a moose biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, who cautioned drivers to take their time in areas with noted moose populations.


“People need to be just extra aware and cautious and be sure to maintain lower speeds in moose country,” Kantar said. The Department of Transportation “has done a great job in putting signs up in areas of the state where people tend to see more moose.”

Moose calves are often born in mid-May and by June may be wandering around, sometimes bringing the “typical adolescents” near roads because they don’t know any better, Kantar said. Around early September moose are also apt to move about more as the mating season starts.

Both times of the year also represent changes in the feeding habits of moose that cause them to be more active and could increase their chances of being in the road.

Moose are typically active at dawn and dusk, so drivers should also use extra caution in the early morning or evening, Kantar said.

“Those low periods of light can be a tough time for drivers to see, but it’s also a time when wildlife tends to be more active,” Kantar said. “People need to be really cognizant of those times of day.”

Cole also cautioned drivers to be cautious of moose no matter the time of day or year.


“You can see moose (in The Forks and Jackman area) any time of year,” he said. “A lot of times they’re right beside the road and blend in with the foliage.” He said not only are they darker than deer, so harder to see, but they move more slowly and don’t get out of the way of a car as quickly.

A Department of Transportation brochure points out that since moose are taller than deer, their eyes don’t reflect in headlights. It also says that because they are higher off the ground, there’s more danger of a moose landing higher on a car — on the windshield or roof, as it did in Coyle’s case.

There are usually between 300 and 400 car-moose crashes a year in Maine, with an average of one fatality. The state has about 160 fatal vehicle accidents a year, according to the Bureau of Highway Safety.

A Portland Press Herald interactive map shows the locations and causes of the 367 moose-vehicle collisions between Sept. 1, 2014 and Sept. 1, 2015, in the state, which resulted in one fatality.

Jackman Ambulance service was the first emergency medical responder on the scene of Coyle’s accident, according to Jackman-Moose River Fire Chief Bill Jarvis, who said Route 201 in the area was closed for about 30 minutes Saturday night so the helicopter could land on the road.

The Jackman-Moose River Fire Department, West Forks Fire Department, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, Upper Kennebec Valley Ambulance Service and Jackman Ambulance were all on scene.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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