Saturday, June 28, 2008

Deer in the Headlights

"Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions." -

We only had 50 miles until we would reach Gardiner, MT. You’ve heard the term, “famous last words?” My husband called for the kids’ attention:

Hey kids, help me look for animals. They like to cross the road at dusk, and I don’t want to hit any.

Good call.

Several minutes later, the kids once again engrossed in their movie, my husband spouted verbage I do not remember and slammed on the brakes. As I turned my head, I saw the deer in the headlights. It darted across the road just inches in front of our car. I really didn’t have time to process what had happened before I saw something else and I, myself, uttered words I shouldn't print.

Turns out, it wasn’t the deer in the headlights that we had to worry about.

It happened very fast, but my brain was able to reconstruct what it had just seen.

We’d managed to miss the first deer, but she had a friend hot on her tail running full force. Immediately after we missed the first one, the second plowed into our front right quarter panel, knocked against the side mirror, flipped around, dented the front passenger door, continued flipping, leaving a smaller dent, some fur, and a token of her terror on the rear passenger door before flying off, presumably, into the ravine. We didn’t go back to check, but I am pretty sure she didn’t make it.

As soon as he recovered his wits, my husband pulled to the side of the road and we inspected the damage. It could have been so much worse.

Like my friend, Roger, later said, angels were with us.

Had she hit a couple feet forward, she could have come through the windshield. Had she hit a couple feet behind, she could have come through one of the side windows. As it was, there was no broken glass. The side mirror was wobbling in its casing (but still usable after we wedged under it a piece of cardboard from a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll – the chocolate helped it stick.) The quarter panel and at least one door will need to be replaced.

We were fine. The kids, watching “A Bug’s Life,” barely missed a beat.

A quick layman’s check of the alignment showed a very slight pull to the right, but my husband said he thought it was already doing that.

Sigh of relief.

The repairs could wait until we got home.

No call to AAA. No tow truck. No rental car. No extra nights in motels. No out of town body mechanic.

No taking for granted wildlife at dusk.

Yep. It could have been so much worse.


  1. Oh my! I'm so glad that it wasn't worse, and that you're all okay. Praise the Lord for watching over you all.

  2. Well, don't we always say "like a deer in the headlights", but how many of us have experienced it? Glad you're safe.

  3. Wow! That happened to us when I was a kid and it is so scary!! Glad you are all okay!


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