A Clemson University student who set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

Nathan Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.

“I’ve heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking,” said Weaver, a 22-year-old student at Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.

The first time Weaver went out to collect data on turtles, he chose a spot down the road from a big apartment complex that caters to students. He counted 267 vehicles that passed by, seven of them intentionally hitting his rubber reptile.

“Wow! That didn’t take long,” Weaver said.

Other cars during the hour missed the turtle. But right after his observation period was up, before Weaver could retrieve the model, another car moved to the right to hit the animal as he stood less than 20 feet (6 meters) away.

“One hit in 50 cars is pretty significant when you consider it might take a turtle 10 minutes to cross the road,” Weaver said.

A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver’s professor, Rob Baldwin.AP