A 17-year-old driver remains in serious condition Monday in a Duluth hospital, where she is being treated for many broken bones in her face and other injuries inflicted when her small car hit a full-grown moose as she drove on a dark northern Minnesota highway with her boyfriend at her side.
The collision on about 11:15 p.m. on July 7 roughly 40 miles east of Eveleth sent Amaya Nelson’s car down a hill, forcing her to claw her way back up to the highway and get help in the middle of the night, according to her father.
After hitting the bull moose, which average roughly a half-ton in weight and is Minnesota’s largest wild animal, “her car veered off-road and downhill,” said Scott Nelson, a native of Two Harbors, who moved his family to Georgia several years ago before returning to northern Minnesota in September.
“When the car came to a stop,” Nelson continued, “Amaya was able to escape the car without assistance, climb the embankment and call 911, all after a major impact with multiple skull fractures and nearly every bone in her face broken.”
Her 22-year-old boyfriend, Remington Dellinger, freed himself from the wreckage with less severe injuries and “was able to perform basic triage on Amaya before first responders arrived, such as wrapping his shirt around her head,” Nelson said.
Nelson said his daughter first went to a hospital nearby in Aurora before being transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, where “she has since undergone facial reconstructive surgery” and remains under intensive care for injuries that include damage to her brain and many of her teeth.
“First responders have said that it is a miracle that Amaya and her boyfriend survived the accident,” her father wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help with medical and other expenses.
Dellinger is in the same hospital and being treated for head, neck and arm injuries. Both had on their seat belts, Nelson said.
Nelson said in his latest online update that his daughter’s “positive and strong-hearted nature are still very much intact, and, above all, she’s grateful that she and her boyfriend are alive.”
The Sheriff’s Office said the moose died in the collision and was turned over to game wardens representing American Indian tribes in the area so it can be processed and distributed to tribal members for food.
The state Department of Natural Resources reported in March that the moose population in that part of Minnesota totals about 4,180. The agency said that number represents an eighth consecutive year of population stability.