Most of the time, there’s nothing funny about car crashes. Still, sometimes crashes make the headlines for being almost unbelievably bizarre — although the insurance companies that pay the related claims probably don’t appreciate the absurdity.
Here are the five most unusual car accidents (and one motorcycle crash) that we’ve seen over the past few years.
1. Post-crash pizza party
In January 2013, a hungry man from Nebraska crashed his car right through the door of a Lincoln pizza joint, Valentino’s. Luckily, no one was injured, and the building sustained no structural damage. The driver evidently wasn’t too concerned about it all; while waiting for emergency crews to show up, he asked the employees whether he could go ahead and make his pizza order. (No word on whether they delivered.)
2. Collision with a flying fish
In 2009, Leighann Niles of Ohio was driving along the coast of Lake Erie when something landed on her windshield, shattering the glass. She claimed that it felt like a brick — but, upon closer inspection, it was a freshwater drum fish, also known as a sheepshead. How did the fish end up falling onto the car? Apparently, an eagle dropped its catch while 40 feet in the air. The eagle probably was disappointed to lose his lunch, but no one was injured.
3. Man plows down cop cars to avoid getting caught
This story was no laughing matter for the police force in Vermont’s state capital, Montpelier.
In August 2012, Roger Pion, who’d recently been arrested for resisting arrest and marijuana possession, was angry at the local police — and decided to take it out on the city’s fleet of cars. He drove into the police parking lot in a farm tractor and proceeded to roll over the seven official vehicles parked there. Once they realized what was happening, officers in the police station ran outside to pursue him. But with no working vehicles, they were unable to chase him, and Pion rolled away. His getaway didn’t last long, however. A short time later, Pion was arrested again by police in a neighboring city.
Pion’s rampage caused $300,000 worth of damage, but it looks like he’ll pay for it. According to Vermont State Police, he faces seven counts of felony unlawful mischief, one count of misdemeanor unlawful mischief, one count aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, one count of gross negligent operation, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. In January 2013, he was found incompetent to stand trial.
4. Mattress accident causes mayhem in Seattle
Here’s a valuable lesson about what can happen when you don’t properly secure your belongings to your car. In December 2011, a man and woman (names not given) were transporting a loosely tied mattress on the roof of their car while driving along Seattle’s Interstate 5. The mattress fell off the car, causing a three-car crash.
That’s when the story gets weird. The woman fled the scene of the crash, leaving her male companion, who we’ll call “Ed,” behind. Minutes later, a Good Samaritan who’d stopped to see whether anyone was hurt was driving away and noticed Ed’s head “bobbing around in the backseat,” he told KOMO. He ordered the unwanted passenger to get out, but Ed refused and then attempted to hijack the car. He was unsuccessful, and the two men wound up in a fistfight.
There’s no word on what happened to the woman, but her one-time companion Ed was taken to a hospital with a broken nose and was charged with attempted theft of a motor vehicle.
5. Man films his own motorcycle accident
Last year, a French journalist from MotoJournal magazine was showing off his motorcycling skills near a pier — and flew his 2013 Yamaha FJR1300A right off the dock and into a sailboat, all while being filmed by one of the magazine’s cameramen. There’s no indication of how well the motorcycle dealt with the crash, but the reporter bounced right back and was a good enough sport about the whole situation to share it on YouTube.
6. Teen drives car off a cliff, survives thanks to iPhone
In 2012, Santa Barbara, Calif., teen Thomas Dwelley went for a ride in his 1995 Ford Mustang convertible on a Friday night, but missed one of the curves in a cliffside road. The car tumbled 200 feet down the side of the mountain to the ground below.
When Dwelley didn’t make it home that night, his parents started to worry. The next morning, they contacted AT&T to get the location of their son’s phone, and the company provided coordinates within 10 minutes. Dwelley’s father, Dave, drove out to the spot where his son supposedly was, saw skidmarks on the road and climbed down the cliff, fearing the worst. He found the car wrecked and empty, with his son’s phone still in it. But when he called out, Thomas answered — he had crawled away from the vehicle and was just 100 feet away.
Dwelley was treated for a skull fracture, but suffered no lasting injuries. The teen is thankful to his dad and his iPhone for saving his life.
The moral of all these stories? It’s important to stay up to date on your car insurance payments, or your bank account will be as totaled as your vehicle.
While an insurance policy won’t cover willful destruction — like what Roger Pion did to the police fleet — it can protect you if a crazy tractor driver or a flying fish wreaks havoc on your vehicle. When you’re on the receiving end of the damage, you’ll have to pay your deductible if the other driver isn’t insured or flees the scene, but it’s a small price to pay compared with what it might otherwise cost you.