GRAPEVINE — Matt Whitehead, a mechanic at Park Place Lexus in Grapevine, has seen just about every critter that could get stuck in or struck by a car.
"[I've seen] small birds, rodents, squirrels, reptiles. Anything but fish," Whitehead said.
But there is one thing Matt Whitehead hadn't seen before — until Saturday.
That’s when a customer appeared in the service bay who’d been driving at more than 60 miles an hour when a red-tailed hawk jammed into the radiator grille of his car.
"Every bird we've ever seen hit a car has died,” Whitehead said. "He was not moving."
Just like any other big wreck, a crowd soon gathered. Fellow mechanics started snapping photos as Whitehead began breaking apart the grille.
There, a surprise was waiting.
"I looked in there and [the hawk] had his head turned kind of sideways," Whitehead said. "I could see his eye and he blinked."
The hawk was alive.
And soon, thanks to Whitehead, the bird was also free.
"Nothing was broke," Whitehead said. "He wasn't even missing a feather that I'm aware. I never even saw any feathers."
The hawk could flap, but not fly. So Whitehead loaded him up and drove him to veterinarian Greg Moore.
Moore said the bird was likely hunting a mouse or rat along the side of the road. He is optimistic the majestic bird will recover from a concussion and internal injuries and will soon fly again.
Moore praised the caring mechanics. "They did a good job - handled the bird well,” he said.
Whitehead was relieved he could actually help an animal - something he doesn't do much in his line of work.
"That was definitely extraordinary,” he said. “I wish that every day would end that happy."
Now when you grill Matt Whitehead about cars versus critters, he can almost certainly say he has seen it all.