'Miraculous': Two Harbors teen survives crash with moose

Amaya Nelson's Dodge Neon was crushed when she hit a bull moose.
Amaya Nelson's Dodge Neon was crushed when she hit a bull moose while driving from Hoyt Lakes to her father's home in Two Harbors July 7, 2019.
Courtesy family photo

A Two Harbors, Minn., teenager is recovering in a Duluth hospital after being nearly crushed to death by a moose she hit with her car.

Amaya Nelson underwent facial reconstructive surgery last week and she was back on her feet and walking over the weekend at St. Mary's Medical Center, her father said.

"It was miraculous. Amaya was able to escape the car on her own after breaking nearly every bone on her face," said her father, Scott Nelson.

Nelson said that Amaya and her boyfriend were driving from Hoyt Lakes to his North Shore home on July 7, a little after 11 p.m.

"It was pitch black and they looked up and there was a giant bull moose standing in the road," Nelson said. "They didn't seem him in time to stop, and they hit him full force. They were going about 55 miles an hour."

Nelson, an auto body mechanic, said the moose was estimated to have weighed about 1,400 pounds, more than half of the weight of his daughter's Dodge Neon sedan.

"Its legs just buckled, and it slid into Amaya and crushed the roof and the steering wheel," Nelson said. He said the driver's seat broke and flopped back into the back seat as Amaya was sitting in it. "The moose would have crushed her otherwise," he said, noting there was only about 4 inches of space between the seat headrest and the car's roof.

Amaya Nelson's Dodge Neon was crushed when she hit a bull moose.
The family of Amaya Nelson said a nighttime collision with a bull moose east of Hoyt Lakes crushed the roof of her car, bent back the steering wheel and nearly killed her.
Courtesy family photo

Nelson says his daughter's boyfriend, Remington Delinger, was also hurt in the crash, but not as badly. Amaya wound up in intensive care at St. Mary's but has been slowly recovering. "She's remaining in good spirits, which is the best thing," Nelson said. "She's always been a happy and strong-hearted girl."

Nelson said he and Amaya's mother, Sheila O'Malley, of Hopkins, have been at her bedside in the hospital. He's also started a GoFundMe campaign to help her and her family recover — and maybe help replace her car with something a little sturdier.

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