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October 4, 2018, was supposed to be a relatively uneventful day for Sheldon Falk. 

The owner of Falk Nurseries, he had plans on spending most of the day south of the border, on a business trip with his son and son-in-law. The three hopped into Falk's Mazda3, which he admits was not the vehicle of choice that morning. But, mechanical problems on their Ford Edge, forced his hand. Now in hindsight, Falk says the decision to take the smaller car may be what saved their lives that day.

It ended up being a routine day until everything changed moments after crossing the border back into Canada later that evening. Falk says they were driving along Provincial Road 201, east of Letellier when his son Ryan, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, yelled 'oh no.' Falk glanced at his son, then back at the road to see a seven foot high moose walking across the highway, only 50 feet in front of their car.

"There was no time to react to the moose at all," recalls Falk. "There was a huge bang obviously and there was glass and dust and wind and the roof tore right open, the windshield was wide open and the whole environment had changed in a second."

2018 10 falk7Sheldon Falk after being stitched upAfter slamming on his brakes, Falk says it took about 300 feet after impact before his car came to a stop on the shoulder. He immediately yelled to his two sons 'is everybody okay?' His son-in-law Adrian mumbled from the back seat that he was good, but Ryan just sat upright, his eyes closed, not saying a word.

"I again said, 'Ryan are you alright?' and he moaned and groaned a bit but he didn't respond," says Falk.

He notes after a third round of questioning, Ryan finally started to speak. Falk quickly ordered Adrian to call 911, knowing he himself was bleeding and had searing pain on his face and shoulder and then not knowing the severity of Ryan's injuries.

Falk says it took only 10 or 12 minutes for paramedics to arrive. The three men were rushed to hospital, and because his lacerations looked so severe, Falk was flown to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg by STARS. He was released from hospital the next day.

The extent of injuries to the Falk family is not what it could have been. Sheldon received a seven-inch gash on his face and a four inch cut along his neck and shoulder area. The gash missed his eye by half an inch and his jugular vein by that same amount. Ryan has a compression fracture in his C1 vertebrae. Had he broken that vertebrae Ryan would have died. And Adrian received cuts to his forehead from the crumbled roof.

"When you see the car you just have to say it's a miracle that we're alive and all the power to God for his plans and his sovereignty"

"God's grace was all over us in protecting us," says Falk. "When we look at how the metal bent right over top of the headrest we should be decapitated and yet we are not."

Falk says they must have ducked in the exact right spot at the perfect time. Further to that, he says had they been driving their Ford Edge, they would have been sitting about a foot higher. But, the lower Mazda allowed them to skip underneath the moose, avoiding much more serious injuries above their chests.

2018 10 falk5Ryan Falk"When you see the car you just have to say it's a miracle that we're alive and all the power to God for his plans and his sovereignty," adds Falk.

Shortly after being released from hospital, Falk was able to visit his Mazda to retrieve valuables still inside. He notes seeing the car in the daylight, with a clear mind provided an even stronger feeling that they should not be alive to tell their story.

The moose did not die on impact. In fact, people from nearby Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation came to the scene shortly after the crash to put the animal out of its misery. They then butchered the moose and prepared the meat for the rest of their community. Falk was able to visit the community on the Thanksgiving weekend and even sampled some of the meat from the animal that nearly took his life. Falk has since learned the moose was a two-year-old bull, weighing more than one thousand pounds and with antlers that ran 36 inches across.

It appears the road to recovery will be longest for Ryan. Today he is in a neck brace and will likely continue to wear that souvenir for the next four to six weeks. He is expected to make a full recovery. Ryan, who was knocked out for about one minute after the crash, says he remembers seeing the moose walking across the road, but thinking there was no way they would hit it. His next memory is from about ten minutes after the crash when he is standing on the side of the road, assessing the situation.

2018 10 falk6Adrian FalkRyan says the cuts and swelling which Adrian received to his face are very quickly becoming less and less noticeable. And as for their father, he will have scars running across his cheek and shoulder the rest of his life. Falk says at a time like this, he could be asking, why me? why a moose? why here in Manitoba?

"But my perspective is that hey we lived and the scar is just to remind me that I have lots to be grateful for," says Falk. "And so I'm okay with it."

Falk says he remembers thinking of Steven Fletcher just before striking the moose. The Manitoba MLA is paralyzed today after a collision with a moose decades ago.

"Being paralyzed did cross my mind," he says. "I wasn't sure what I would see if I lived. It happened so fast and I was glad that I wasn't looking at decapitated sons."

Falk says the crash has allowed him to realize how much he appreciates his wife, children and family. He says life is precious and relationships are incredible.

Meanwhile, Ryan says heading into Thanksgiving, he had been asking God to make him more thankful and to teach him gratitude.

"I would say God has some interesting ways of getting his point across sometimes, especially with an accident like this right over Thanksgiving weekend," he says. "It's pretty obvious and I have a lot to be thankful for."

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