Wild turkey crashes New Jersey family’s celebratory trip

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Before John Tarabocchia knew it, a 30-pound wild turkey came crashing through his windshield.

A driver’s nightmare, his family was a bit shaken up, but they’re OK after the bird crashed their party. Glass shattered the windshield, however, Tarabocchia was able to navigate them to safety.

“I thought he would go over the roof of the car – instead he went right into the windshield, crashed right through the windshield,” Tarabocchia said.

Tarabocchia, with his son Ian in the passenger seat and his wife Corina, and her mother, Maria in the back seat, then wrestled his rental car to the side of Route 20 in La Porte County, Indiana.

“The rear-view mirror broke off, so I looked at the side mirrors,” Tarabocchia said. “I got over one lane, and finally pulled it over to the side and there were some other vehicles on the other lane that pulled a u-turn and came over and assisted us.”

LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call. Capt. Michael Kellems said, “Four wild turkeys were flying across the roadway and this vehicle, the westbound vehicle struck the fourth one in this small flock.”

Tarabocchia and his family, from Emerson, New Jersey, said they were making the 120-mile trip from South Bend to the airport in Chicago. They had spent the weekend at University of Notre Dame, where his daughter Riana has been accepted.

They were about 40 miles into the trip when the large tom turkey suddenly flew up in front of them.

“Hats off to Mr. Tarabocchia,” Capt. Kellems said. “He was able to keep that car under control and get it pulled off the side of the road without contacting any other cars.”

Tarabocchia said, “If I had tried to veer it right or left, he would have lost control of the vehicle.”

Back home after a very long day, Tarabocchia and his family are tired, but are most thankful everyone is safe and sound.

The turkey was killed on impact. Family members suffered some small cuts.

Police said wild turkeys are on the move during spring mating season, and can be as hazardous as deer.

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