A teenager was killed in a freak accident Monday morning when his car slammed into the path of a pack of mules.

Melvin Ault, 19, of East Petersburg, Lancaster Co., was driving south on Route 272 on his way to go hunting and meet his family when his car hit two mules running across the road. Ault's roof landed on top of him and his car was thrown into oncoming traffic, said police.

"The vehicle then went into the northbound lane, was sideswiped by a second vehicle and a short time later struck a third time," said Ofc. Jesse Blank, Southern Regional Police Dept. "It's a tragedy because this young man had everything going for him, he was a local student."   

The accident happened just before 6 a.m. Monday on Route 272 in Pequea Twp., Lancaster Co. Ault and one mule were killed instantly. A second mule was so badly injured it had to be euthanized, police said.

"Just the freak nature of it, you're driving along and there's obviously no way you could know what's going on and randomly you have to make a split second decision," said Blank.

Both directions of Route 272 near Shiprock Road were shut down for five hours as police processed the scene.   

The pack of four mules escaped from a pasture about two miles away. The owner of the farm told police the mules were secured behind a fence, but when he woke up Monday morning the fence was torn down, said police.

Two other mules ran off before police arrived on scene.

The Lancaster County coroner said Ault died of multiple traumatic injuries, and his death was ruled accidental.

The drivers of the two other vehicles were taken to Lancaster General Hospital, but police said their injuries were not life-threatening.   

The crash remains under investigation.