Could it be that the bird had been injured
(perhaps even hit by the 4WD in question), and they were taking it to the
nearest animal rescue centre?
OK, they could have rung for help, but
then maybe they did not have a mobile phone.
In my case, there was a sick Long Billed
Corella in my garden last year. I phoned WIRES in Sydney and they said try the Blue Mountains unit. I rang them, and they said they had
no-one in the Penrith area until one of their volunteers (a school teacher)
finished at approx 4pm, who would come and pick it up, and to place a washing
basket over the bird if I could until they came.
The poor bird was therefore left out in
the yard for 6 hours before being picked up. So I would imagine the pelican was
better off getting a lift to help rather than awaiting a volunteer rescuer.