Koala gets in the driver’s seat after causing multi-car crash on Australian freeway

 A koala hopped in the driver’s seat of his rescuer’s car after causing a multi-vehicle crash on an Australian freeway. 

The koala wandered onto the road and tried to cross six lanes of traffic during morning rush hour in the city of Adelaide. A concrete highway divider blocked the way though, and five cars piled up in the chaos.

One woman involved got out to investigate what happened and saw the animal on the side of the road. Nadia Tugwell knew she had to try and help. 

So she grabbed her coat and, with help from a stranger who had a blanket, got the koala safely to her car.  

Tugwell said the animal wasn’t hurt at all. "It was very active, but very calm," she explained.

Once the koala was in her trunk, Tugwell drove to a gas station to turn it over to wildlife rescuers. But before she handed the animal off, the koala climbed into her SUV’s cabin and began exploring.

Credit: Nadia Tugwell via Storyful

"It decided to come to the front toward me, so I said, ‘OK, you stay here. I’ll get out,’" she said.

"It started sitting for a while on the steering wheel (as if) saying, ‘Let’s go for a drive,’ and that’s when I started taking photos," she added.

Credit: Nadia Tugwell via Storyful

Tugwell said she had learned from past experience how to calm koalas by covering their eyes. She lives near a eucalyptus forest and has twice called animal handlers to rescue koalas injured in fights with other koalas.

"I live up in the hills, and if you let them do what they want to do and you don’t chase them or something, they’re OK," Tugwell said.

The leather trimmings of her luxury vehicle were scratched by the animal, but Tugwell said the happy ending was well worth the damage.

The koala later was released in a forest, well away from the freeway.

No one was seriously hurt in the crash. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report