‘It’s hard, but I’m trying’

Barb Sweet
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

New Harbour woman lost fiancé in moose-vehicle accident four months ago

— File photo Canadian Press

When Kayla Evans met Johnathon Neil, she was amazed someone so young could have accomplished so much.

“I figured I could do the same thing. He was very, very smart,” said Evans, who had dropped out of high school and was working at McDonald’s, where Neil, then 18, was supporting himself through trade school.

By the time the couple were in their early 20s, they had a new home in New Harbour, Neil was on his way to writing his journeyman electrician’s ticket and Evans got her diploma and was coming behind him in the electrical trade. They planned to marry.

Then, on Sept. 16, Evans’ life came crashing down when Neil, 22, left for work across the Tilton Barrens Road and struck a moose.

The accident happened around 7:20 a.m. But Evans didn’t find out until a few hours later, when a utility worker on the scene contacted her family.

Neil was pronounced dead at the health centre in Whitbourne. A passenger in Neil’s vehicle suffered minor injuries, police said at the time.

“I hope it’s something that nobody else has to go through,” Evans said of losing the love of her life. She left last weekend for Fort McMurray to find work, and has had to put their home up for sale. They’d only lived there a month and a half before the accident.

“He was a complete angel,” said her mother, Leanne, crediting Neil with turning her daughter’s life around after they met. “She was having a rough time and he straightened her up.”

“He was nice to everybody,” Evans said of her tall, blond-haired fiancé.

Evans has kept Neil’s inspiration in her heart. He would have written his journeyman’s test Oct. 15; she is an apprentice.

“It’s hard, but I’m trying,” she said. “These are all the things he would want. That pretty much gets me through each day.”

Evans said the province could have kept the brush cleared on the side of the road and that would have helped Neil see the moose. She described him as a good driver.

Because of the shock, Evans barely remembers that day, but Nancy Neil remembers waiting with her husband, John, for their son outside a bank in Bay Roberts, where they were expecting to take care of some family business.

It was raining, and Nancy Neil could barely make out Evans’ words through the tears when her cellphone rang around 10:20 a.m. Her middle child was dead, the day before his 22nd birthday.

Nancy, who commutes from Clarke’s Beach to her job at a trucking firm in St. Johns, said her son would always warn her about being careful of moose on the highway. Evans got the same warnings whenever she would head out over the barrens.

“He knew what he was doing and where he was going,” Nancy Neil said of her son’s ambition in life.

“We’re hanging in, but we have our moments.”

This week, the Neils heard in the media that St. John’s lawyer Ches Crosbie was launching a class action lawsuit against the government over moose accidents, and they met with him.

She said her goal is to see brush cut back and moose fencing installed on highways.

“Something has to be done,” she said.

In the print edition of The Weekend Telegram, read about what an ecologist and formal federal wildlife biologist feels is a cause of moose on the roads. 


Geographic location: New Harbour, Tilton Barrens Road, Whitbourne Fort McMurray Bay Roberts

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Kay
    January 16, 2011 - 15:47

    It is sad for any person to lose a loved one in a family member. I think there is some room for improvements on our highways - brush should be cut back, people should drive for the conditions (the fog often reduces visibility to zero..have driven it), and people are often the worst offenders/hazards on the road. To say it is government's fault because there are too many moose is stretching it a bit in my mind.

  • MallRat
    January 15, 2011 - 18:21

    This Government needs to do some house keeping on this issue. Kathy and Klan should dip into one year of Oil revenues and just simply Fix this problem. Oh, but wait.... That may concede that Government recognizes accountability for all the senseless deaths over the last 30 years..... That would give credence to Crosby's class action and result in a HUGE PayOut.... This issue needs immediate attention and Egos need to get packed AWAY!! MallRat

  • banjaxed
    January 15, 2011 - 15:38

    It's high time for the government to decide what's more important , the ecosystem of the moose population or the safety of the people it is their duty to protect , raise the limit for hunters to 2 or 3 if needed , who gives a crap if the moose are extinct on the Island in 10 years if it saves a few lives.I lived in Central for 6 years and am originally form St Johns and during the many trips back to the city I had many a close call , ione night near Whitbourne , I had no idea how I avoided striking a young moose he fell under the car , slipping on the ice but by the grace of God there was no incident , I also have an old friend of mine who had a promising career as a teacher , now due to a moose accident 20 years ago he is a in a wheel cheer not able to lift a limb.To Kayla Evans .....my heart goes out to you

  • mary
    January 15, 2011 - 15:25

    For those who wish to see more moose licences and more moose taken near the roadways - please stop and think - not all people are responsible and I sure don't want to be hit by a stray bullet as I drive along.

  • roger corbett
    January 15, 2011 - 12:28

    yes i totally agree with previous comments the government seems to think more about the welfare of moose than that of the lives & health of people. the moose aren't native to nl, the government brought them here, let them deal with it but i guess that they will deal with it the same as the seal & cod!!! we come home to nl just about every summer for holidays & when it becomes dark in the nite we are afraid to drive on the tch! my feeling go out to those that have lost loves ones & those who are dealing with loved ones broken up from moose vehicle collisions, i hope now that there is a lawsuit opened up against the government that we will see some movement on this issue ( not for the moose but for human beings.

  • Diane Neil
    January 15, 2011 - 09:46

    That is a day that my family will never forget, a day that changed our lives forever. As mentioned Johnathon had alot going for him at such a young age. He knew what he wanted and he went and got it. Johnathon was a person that everyone that knew him was very fond of him. He had a good heart. I know for me, my husband and kids Johnathon held a special place in our hearts and that wilol never leave us.I hope that the government do cut back the trees and brush from the sides of the roads and put up fences. They should do something to try and prevent other families from getting such devastating news.

  • Graham
    January 15, 2011 - 09:07

    Its sad to see that our government puts more value on the life of a moose than it does its citizens.

  • L
    January 15, 2011 - 08:22

    Condolences to all involved with this horrible tragedy. Kayla, what strength you have demonstrated. Your fiance, I'm sure, would be very proud of you, and what you continue to do in his memory.

  • Steve
    January 15, 2011 - 07:56

    It is the New Harbour barrens not Tilton.

  • Dwayne Cull
    January 15, 2011 - 07:22

    So much promise spoiled by a moose...... Mark my words, the government WILL admit to this problem when one of them has to go through what this family has had to endure. You can surely count some of these tragedies to driver error or bad judgement but the fact is there are too many moose PERIOD. BTW nobody wants to eliminate the moose but if changes were made to the lisencing system to allow more moose to be killed and in particular, to be taken near main roadways, at least drivers would be given a fighting chance to get from point A to point B. And I ask again, "What is the point of having a moose behind every tree in Newfoundland?"