Things can change in a nano-second. One minute, you’re moving along in your life, perhaps even having a great day and feeling hopeful, and the next, you are reminded of how precarious life can be. Last night Kelly and I had one of those moments. If anything had been slightly different, it’s possible we would not be alive.
We had spent the entire weekend enjoying various activities and meals and socializing with friends. We were on our way back from a fly-fishing excursion in Deckers, and moving through the pitch blackness of Highway 85, between Sedalia and Highlands Ranch, near the town of Louviers. Kelly had requested my original music on the stereo and “Something in Me” was playing. We were happy and tired from our wonderful weekend.
Then something appeared a few feet in front of her car. A large buck-deer. It was as if it had fallen from the sky directly in front of us. There was no time to react. The only thought i recall is, it’s too close. We’re going to hit it. And then the expletive, FUCK.
We made impact in the front passenger side where i was, striking the animal in the hindquarters, and it was just gone, as quickly as it had appeared. By this time, she had braked a little, and we were just continuing down the road, slowly, staring ahead, shocked and trying to assimilate what had just happened. I said, “Kelly….pull over. Pull over…” She did and we just sat there for a few minutes, realizing that we had somehow managed to emerge unscathed from a potentially deadly accident.
I think because we hit him while he was running, and impacted his hindquarters, the momentum just spun him toward the ditch. If we had hit him broadside, things could have been so much worse. Since we were in a small car, it would have been easy for him to have flipped right through our windshield.
I recalled all the stories of deer-impacts on roadways. Some of the stories were straight out of a horror movie. The beast is propelled through the front window, severely injuring or even killing the passengers; sometimes the deer would still be alive, and it would be flailing and kicking, and the passengers would be further injured or killed by that. This particular animal was huge. Maybe 8 or 10 point Buck, with a formidable rack of antlers. I imagined us being gored by those as we sat pinned in the vehicle with him thrashing in pain and confusion.
Soon, i was thinking practicalities and mercy. I had to squeeze through the passenger door, as it was jammed a little by the side panel, and I took pictures of the damage, which was, surprisingly, not half as bad as it could have been. Then she called the Sheriff’s department and asked about filing a report for insurance and we also wanted to get someone from game and fish to find the poor animal and either help it or euthanize it. I didn’t think there was any way it was going to survive, though.
I thought about the experience I’d had with a previous girlfriend, where we were on a trip in Colorado, no less, and had experienced the same vision while driving at night–I had been trying to take a nap in the back seat, and Em was driving. In my mind, while dozing, a vivid and violent scene unfolded–quick seconds of tragedy. I had seen us hitting a deer in the road, and it had come through the front window. I sat straight up and in a panic, said “Baby–”
She said, “Did you see that too?”
“I saw a deer and–”
“We hit it and it came through the windshield–”
We both had to stop and get hold of ourselves, wondering at the strangeness of the event. Not wanting to tempt fate, I had suggested that if this was some kind of warning, we needed to change our timeline. So we pulled over and took a break. When we got back on the road, only a few minutes later, we saw a herd of deer crossing the road in front of us, and they were almost out of site onto the other side. We shared a spooky look with each other.
And Kelly and I — yesterday–I took a video only an hour or so earlier, where a deer had been down the slope of the overlook we stopped at. Now, it seemed a portent of things to come…
As we sat there in Kelly’s car, absorbing what had just happened to us, I heard some thrashing sounds, and eventually, we saw it in the hillside brush, stumbling, its back leg obviously broken, and perhaps its back. It was half falling down the incline and trying to walk. We both were overcome with sadness and heartsick to see the suffering of this beautiful beast. Then we lost sight of it, and made some more calls and finally a State Trooper arrived.
He took a report and told us that he would have to go out there with his flashlight and find the deer, and shoot it. It was sickening to think about, because Kelly and I are both HSP’s and thus very sensitive, but we knew it was the merciful thing. This animal would have either starved while suffering or been attacked by other animals-like wolves- and torn to shreds while still alive. A bullet is always a better alternative.
But, amid this tragic event for an innocent animal, we realized that there was much to be thankful for.
We had just had a Near Death Experience. We had beaten the odds.
We felt so lucky. So unbelievably, inexplicably lucky.