Firefighters cut a 19-year-old man free from his car after it crashed into a water buffalo in south Cumbria.
The Fiat Punto hit the large animal on the A590, near Dalton-in-Furness, on Monday night.
Police said the privately-owned buffalo, known locally as William Shakespeare, died at the scene. It had escaped from a nearby field.
The driver, from Barrow, was taken to Furness General Hospital and treated for minor injuries.
Two other cars, a Ford Focus and a Nissan Micra, collided after swerving to avoid the buffalo and the Fiat.
The Nissan's two occupants were taken to hospital where the female passenger was treated for whiplash.
A Cumbria Police spokesman said the buffalo had escaped from the field on previous occasions.
He said: "A water buffalo named William Shakespeare, who was very well known in the area, tragically sustained fatal injuries in the collision and died at the scene.
"Its owner is from the Walney area and it is believed to have escaped before.
"There will be a normal police investigation into the collision."