Today’s Pickup: Trucker recounts harrowing bald eagle strike on I-95 — and miraculous outcome

Good day,

A bald eagle is expected to make a full recovery after striking the windshield of a fully loaded tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 in Connecticut in a harrowing incident that left the driver shaken but unhurt.

Scott Burke of SRS National Trucking spotted the bird dining on roadkill in the southbound lanes as he brought the Kenworth up to speed on the other side of the interstate on Jan 21. After an approaching motorist honked his horn, the bird took flight — directly into the path of the semi, traveling about 50 mph with a gross weight of 80,000 pounds.

“I thought, ‘This is not going to end well for either of us,’” Burke told FreightWaves.

The impact, captured on Burke’s dashcam, pushed in the windshield and shattered the safety glass — and the massive bird held on.

Despite the shock and a face full of glass dust, Burke, a driver with 25 years of experience under his belt, managed to pull over and stop his rig within about 3,000 feet.

“It took about five seconds, but it seemed like an eternity,” Burke said. 

The bald eagle jumped from the windshield and fled underneath the tractor-trailer. Burke assumed he would find it dead. Instead, he found the eagle badly hurt but still very much alive. 

Burke called police, who got the eagle to A Place Called Hope, an organization that specializes in caring for birds of the prey.

The female eagle has been on the mend and the organization expects to release it back into the wild soon. A Place Called Hope has been reporting the eagle’s progress on Facebook and is accepting donations to help its recovery.

Burke, 48, also gets regular text messages with updates on the eagle’s progress. He’s glad that he and the bird are going to be OK. 

Did you know?

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— Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, on its expanded partnership with UPS to fight human trafficking 

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Final thoughts:

Burke, who lives in Massachusetts with his wife, returned to service the next day in another truck. He’s had his share of close calls over the years, including collisions with birds and other animals — but never anything quite like his encounter with the eagle.

“It really makes you think how quickly things can happen on the road,” Burke said.

Hammer down, everyone!