Driver spots 'strange' creature on road after playing back dashcam video

The encounter replayed in the driver's head all the way home. When he found out what sort of animal he'd narrowly missed, he rushed to his parents.

A still image from a dashcam shows Heathcote Road at night. A red circle is around a koala on the road.
An Aussie driver played back his dashcam video after his late-night koala encounter. Source: Michael McInerney

A “shock” late-night encounter on an Aussie suburban road has spurred a driver to check his dashcam footage as soon as he got home. Michael McInerney, 22, had been driving home from the gym just after midnight on Monday when he spotted a creature bounding between barriers set up along a road-work zone in southwest Sydney.

“I was just driving and I noticed something coming at me,” he told Yahoo News on Tuesday. “Initially, I thought it was running at the car, so I put on the brakes to try and go around it.”

Although he’d never seen one in the wild, McInerney was pretty sure what animal he'd come across on the road. The encounter was repeating in his mind as he drove home.

“I couldn’t actually comprehend it until I went back and checked the dashcam footage,” he told Yahoo News Australia. To see just how fleeting McInerney's encounter with the animal was, you can watch his footage below.

After ejecting the USB from his dashcam system, McInerney reviewed the front and back facing cameras. It was immediately clear the animal he’d seen was a koala.

“Especially the back camera, you can see it. I didn’t even suspect koalas ran that fast — it’s literally jogging,” he said.

“That’s why I showed my parents straightaway. I’m like: ‘Look at this!’ It was quite strange.”

At the time it would have been dangerous for McInerney to stop, as there was nowhere to pull over around the Heathcote Road upgrade near Holsworthy. Concerned the animal might be hit on the busy road, he put up a message on a local social media page asking for help from a wildlife rescuer.

Two images of Appin Road. Left: A koala in a tree near the LendLease development. Right - Appin Road during the day.
Nearby Appin Road in Sydney's southwest is known as Australia's 'killing corridor' because of the large number of endangered koalas killed on the stretch. Source: Patrick Baric/Barry Durman

Volunteers from Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown which is associated with Sydney Wildlife Rescue spotted his post on Tuesday and located the koala in a nearby tree. Unfortunately it had been hit by a car.

The group’s founder Ricardo Lonza told Yahoo News the animal has been assessed by a vet.

“We've been advised that it has been hit by a car. It's got head trauma,” he said. It was undergoing tests this afternoon to determine whether it had any broken bones — injuries that can often be unrecoverable for a koala because of their need to climb trees.

Lonza is concerned about ongoing development in koala habitat around the southwest. It’s been linked to koalas being struck by cars at an alarming rate.

“The problem is street trees are being removed, roads are being widened,” Lonza said. “There were barriers there for the roadworks, but the koala somehow got in there.”

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.