The Love Bug: Canadian Style

A tale of the runaway snowmobile, and the people who chased it
Rogue snow machine stopped 12 kilometres away
CBC News Posted: Mar 10, 2015 11:17 AM NT Last Updated: Mar 10, 2015 3:43 PM NT

Driverless snowmobile causes hazard on Newfoundland highway
It was like a scene out of the movie The Love Bug, except in this version the machine with a mind of its own was a snowmobile on the Trans-Canada Highway in western Newfoundland.

Corner Brook residents Glenn and Julia Sharpe were travelling on the TCH towards Deer Lake on Monday evening when they spotted a snowmobile travelling on the westbound side of the highway near St. Jude’s.

The Sharpes managed to get their camera out and take a picture of the driverless machine as it tore down the highway.

“There was nobody riding it — it was by itself,” Glenn Sharpe said.

“All of a sudden my wife said, ‘Look there’s somebody there.'” This head popped up, he was like a snowman. This guy was over the bank. He was in the snow.”

The Sharpes pulled over and helped the driver in their car.

“He said he was fine and that the throttle stuck or broke and the snowmobile got away with it,” Sharpe said. “He tried to hold on as long as he could, he said, but he just lost control and the snowmobile just went on and he was left in the dust.”

Runaway snowmobile
A snowmobile, which travelled 12-kilometres without a driver, was stopped when an RNC officer nudged it off the road, into a snowbank. (Submitted by Glenn and Julia Sharpe)

The driver, who Sharpe said was bewildered and worried about the snowmobile hitting someone, began a trek westbound on the TCH in the Sharpe’s car.

The group watched as the rogue snowmobile bounced from either side of the highway, causing traffic to swerve around it.

“It was quite dangerous actually because there were tractor trailers swerving and there [were] a lot of vehicles on the highway [Monday]. Thankfully it wasn’t slippery — it was a beautiful sunny day.”

Thwarting the driverless snowmobile

Sharpe said he saw one vehicle try to stop the machine by reaching out the vehicle window and hitting the handlebars, in an attempt to reach the kill switch.

“Another vehicle, I think, tried to hit it,” he said.

“Kudos to that guy. He did hit it but nothing happened. He didn’t flip or didn’t stop it at all.”

As the snowmobile approached Pasadena, an unmarked Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer nudged the machine off the road, causing it to hit a snowbank — ending its 12-kilometre adventure.

Sharpe said everyone relieved that no one — including the operator — was injured.


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