From: Sketchy Albedo <email@example.com>
Date: 23 Dec 1997 22:30:25 GMT
Huge camel fleeing live Nativity scene killed on Route 50
By: CHRISTOPHER MUNSEY, Staff Writer
A Camel that got loose from a live Nativity performance at a Kent Island
church ran out onto Route 50 and was struck and killed by a car Sunday
night, state police said.
The violent event marred an elaborate Christmas show staged by the Kent
Island United Methodist Church on Cox Neck Road near Chester.
The motorist who hit the camel, Vinit Mody of Columbia, said he only
remembers seeing the dark shape of a large animal running into the
headlights of his rented 1998 Volvo station wagon on eastbound Route 50.
He steered to try to avoid the animal, but it struck the right side of the
station wagon. As the 6-foot tall, 600 pound Arabian camel slammed into
the vehicle, an explosion of shattered glass sprayed into the front seat.
Sitting stunned in the wreckage of his car, his body and face pricked with
shards of glass, Mt Mody said someone told him he had hit a camel.
"I said, 'How in hell is a camel on Route 50 in the United States of
America?' You only see a camel in the zoo," he said.
The camel, a 1--year-old male named Ernie, had been tied to a trailer at
the church along Cox Neck Road. His companion, Fred, did not escape. The
church is a few hundred feet from the highway.
The Kent Island United Methodist Church hosted the second night of the
Nativity performance Sunday. About 100 people came to Saturday's 7 p.m.
The camel was one of two owned by church members John and Kathleen
McQueeney of Stevensville taking part in the performance. The mcQueeneys
own Fantasy Farms, a collection of exotic pets. Local schoolchildren
often visit the animals.
It was the first year the church had organized a living Nativity outside
the church, said the Rev. Ken Valentine.
Sometime after 6 p.m., the camel got loose. The accident, reported at
6:28 p.m., wasn't visible from the church.
Mr. McQueeney told him he made sure to tie the camel securely to the
trailer. They don't think anyone untied it deliberately, the Rev.
Valentine said. The camel was left unattended for a few minutes as Mr.
Mcqueeney showed his elderly parents where to park. When he heard someone
call out that the camel was loose, he ran back to the trailer.
"I ran full speed up to the highway, but he had been hit," Mr. Mcqueeney
Church members decided to go ahead with the performence, scheduled for 7
"We felt it would have had a longer negative impact on the children if we
canceled," the Rev. Valentine said.
As they planned the Nativity this fall, their greatest worry was that an
animal would get loose. For safety, each animal was accompanied by a
person, and none was let out of its trailers until close to the
Mr. Mody and his wife, Kiran, were driving to pick up their son at
Washington College in Chestertown for the holiday break.
Originally from India, Mr. Mody is a Jain, a branch of Hinduism. Jains do
not eat meat and practice nonviolence. To be responsible for the death of
an animal is distressing, he said.
When he called for help, Mr. Mody said he had trouble convincing
dispatchers that he wasn't suffering from drug-induced hallucinations.
The Modys were treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center and released.
The church might still put on a living Nativity next year, but would
reconsider using live animals, the Rev. Valentine said.
"It was a tragedy. We were trying to do something positive for
Christmas...and then the animal's killed, and people that were
injured, we feel very badly for them," he said.