As It Happens

South Carolina man unhurt after 'flying' turtle hurtles into windshield

John Gardner of Conway, South Carolina got a case of shell shock while driving to work, after a turtle flying through the air on a busy highway shattered his windshield.

John Gardner said a nearby truck's rear tire struck the turtle, flinging it towards his car

John Gardner sent this photo of the turtle lodged in his car's windshield to his boss to explain why he was going to be late for work that day. (Submitted by John Gardner)


A South Carolina driver got a case of shell shock after a turtle flying through the air on a busy highway shattered his windshield.

John Gardner said the rear tire on a truck near him hit the turtle and flung the reptile into his windshield on April 30 as he was driving along a highway near Conway, S.C., about 150 kilometres northwest of Charleston. 

"I could not tell what it was while it was in the air, and even once it had been inside my windshield for a few seconds, it took me a few seconds to be like, 'Oh! That's a turtle,'" he told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"It was a decent enough size to break a windshield. So it [made] a pretty significant dent in the windshield."

The impact also caused noticeable damage to the car's hood and wiper system, he added.

Interior view of Gardner's car after a turtle collided into his windshield. (Submitted by John Gardner)

Despite being "covered in lots and lots of glass" from the shattered windshield, he was uninjured.

Gardner says he thinks the turtle hurtled towards his car head-first. It did not survive the collision.

'You can't really make something like this up'

At the time, Gardner was on his way to work. It was only his second day on the job. He called his boss.

"I said exactly what happened. I just said, 'Hey, a turtle got hit into my windshield. I'll be a bit late,'" he said.

"They were like: 'You can't really make something like this up, so just send us the pictures later and we'll talk about it then.'"

The local body shop posted photos of Gardner's car after repairing and restoring it to "pre-turtle condition," at a cost of about $2,000 US.

He said staff also gave the unlucky turtle a proper burial.

When turtles fly

Gardner wasn't the first to encounter a flying turtle on the highway. He wasn't even the first in his state.

Gardner was uninjured, but says he was covered in bits of glass after the collision. (Submitted by John Gardner)
As It Happens listener Wes von Papineau from Port Coquitlam, B.C., suspected we would be looking into the story, and pre-emptively sent us a short list of similar incidents.

In 2016, a turtle crashed straight through a Florida woman's windshield, bounced off the passenger seat, and landed on her dashboard while she was travelling the I-4 interstate. In that case, the turtle managed to plod away relatively unscathed.

In 2013, a user on Reddit posted a photo of a turtle that collided into the driver's side of his car's windshield, leaving the driver face-to-face with the airborne interloper.

And in 2012, another turtle in South Carolina was hit by a large vehicle, sending it careening into Craig Parrish's headlights. Parrish told the local Wilson Times that when he stopped the car to investigate, the turtle, still alive, tried to bite him.

Written by Jonathan Ore with files from The Associated Press. Interview with John Gardner produced by Morgan Passi.


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