Twelve years ago, I took an innocent life (totally and utterly accidentally)--That of a Momma Deer and her alleged fetus (that "fact" remains (har har-ok terrible pun) in debate--supposedly she was pregnant--my unreliable source who "verified" this "fact" is my family who was present at the "incident").
Anyway...this is a story of that fateful evening twelve long years ago, November 14, 1999. I was 15 and half, in my Sophomore Year at Del Oro High School. I had finally been cleared by my doctor for my neck injury (another story for another time--maybe--it's embarassing too) so I could start driving.
It started out as any other Sunday. We went to church, had dinner, and then headed to choir practice at dusk. I had received my driver's permit three days before. And the day before I had had my very first driving lesson with a teacher in our ward. This is important to know and remember. So recap: I had only ONE driving lesson when the incident occurred.
Because I was learning to drive, my mom suggested that I drive the family (Mom, Nana, Steven, Caitlin & Erin) to choir practice that night, to start working on getting the 50 hours I needed to get my licence. At first she suggested that we take Nana's car, but I was scared to drive it because it was so fancy so I wanted to drive the van. Turns out that decision possibly saved our lives. If we had been driving the car, I would have hit the deer at the legs and it could have flipped up into the windshield, seriously injuring or killing my family.
So we piled into the van and I successfully navigated it out on to Sierra College Blvd. and began driving towards Loomis. My mom was trying to encourage me to drive the speed limit (55mph), I could only get up to 45 before I would chicken out. I didn't like the car moving that fast! What if I lost control??
Then, just over a mile away from home, it happened. Suddenly there was an extremely large deer in front of the van (seriously-it was as long as the front of the van)! And I ran into it going about 45mph. I can distinctly remember mom saying about 15 seconds before that I should try to speed up and go the speed limit, so I was actually accelerating when I hit the deer. The deer had no chance. I hit it when it was squarely in front of me. It seemed as though it had just appeared out of nowhere. Mom says she saw it on the side of the road, but didn't say anything, but just watched it jump across one lane entirely and landing directly in my speeding path.
I plowed that deer down, unintentionally. If I had actually seen it before I hit it, I'm sure I would have swerved. But I didn't and so I just kept driving, albeit slowly because the car was demolished. I can remember my mom yelling at me to pull over and hit the brake. I remember screaming and gripping the steering wheel, my mom says my hands were in the air. I do remember her grabbing the wheel and pulling the car to the side of the road with her telling to brake.
Eventually we came to a stop and everyone piled out of the car except me. I was sobbing in the front seat while white smoke poured into the van. I remember it smelled horrible. Apparently it was radiator fluid burning on the engine block. I have no idea how long I sat there. Probably not very long. What I do remember, however, was my family standing on the side of the road staring at the front of the van and my mom shaking her head.
Then, some guy (who must have stopped to see if he could help) climbed in the van on the passenger's seat and reached over to try to comfort me and tell me that it would be okay. I am not even joking. I had no idea who this guy was. I was caught so off guard by him actually talking to me that I stopped crying and stared at him. As he was talking to me, he reached out to touch my shoulder, I'm sure trying to comfort me, but I was so freaked out by him that I started screaming and jumped out of the van. I'm lucky that there were no cars coming because I jumped right out into the road. Someone came over and guided me somewhere where I couldn't see the front of the van or the deer. My mom didn't want me to be traumatized anymore than I already had been.
At one point I remember my Nana saying that she wanted to take it home and eat it "because we knew how it died. It would be delicious. All we have to do is toss in the back of a truck." Seriously. That is what she said--and I think she was about half serious. :)
A couple of days later we drove past and the deer was still there. I still have a hard time seeing dead deer on the road--or live ones for that matter.
So some family friends came and saved us. I wanted to go home (I looked like a disaster and felt terrible) but my mom said that we still needed to choir practice because we committed to it. Oy. I'm pretty sure my brother got up and announced what had happened in practice or something. I don't know, but I didn't go in and sing, but then my friends came out to either make sure I was okay, or laugh at me (I'm still not sure which). :)
My siblings thought it was hilarious and made up a poem/song dedicated to the deer. It went something like this:
"Dear Deer, Oh dear, We're so sorry Megan put the radiator in your ear." Steven even made up a dance. And yes, it still gets sung/recited to me. At least now it's funny and not embarassing.
So the great (?) thing is that I totalled the van. I hit the deer so hard that I busted the radiator, destroyed some other things, and cracked the battery. I think that is pretty impressive. Go big or go home, right?! When we got the van back, it looked perfect, except for the dented license plate and one small dent on the passenger side of the hood. Mom said that the deer's hoof hit the plate and the small dent in the hood was from the nose. Isn't that the meanest and saddest thing you ever heard? So mean. My siblings thought it was hilarious. :)
Fortunately, it really wasn't that traumatizing for me. Yes, it was hard to drive after that, but I don't remember having nightmares of suicide committing deers (that what my mom called it to "make me feel better") or anything.
The worst part was all the lighthearted teasing I got from my family and friends. Especially my best friends Monica and Lauren, mostly Lauren. She got hers though, you know what they say about Karma. :) When we were all in college, Lauren hit a deer and messed up her car pretty good. Apparently she told Monica about it, but they both vowed they would never tell me because of the "torture" I could throw back in her face. When I did find out a couple of years ago, I laughed and laughed and laughed. It was awesome. :)
The accident "haunted" me all through high school. One my friends even would follow me home at night "to make sure I would get there safely." Unfortunately the first time he did that, there was a whole herd of deer chilling next to the road on a blind corner. I was going slow and nothing happened, but my friend insisted that it was because he was there and he thought it was so funny. Though interestingly, two years to the day, that same friend shattered both bones in his leg in football practice. That's what he gets for mocking me relentlessly.
Then two years ago, on the tenth "anniversary" of my accident I was driving down my boss's road (it's right past where the accident was) and I saw a deer and her baby. No, I didn't panic, but I slowed waaay down. I was literally crawling down the road waiting for them to run away. The mom did and then suddenly the baby decided that it wanted to be on the other side of the road. I basically stopped in the middle of the road and then the deer jumped in front of me. And HE hit my car! I was stopped so it didn't do any damage, but the baby deer stumbled and then stood up and stared me down. I could feel his eyes judging me and saying, "Jerk! Why did you get in my way?!" Seriously. That's what he said. And then he bounded away after his mommy. I thought it was soooo funny! And on the 10th Anniversary! Bwahahaha!!!
So that is the story of my first accidental accident. I won't tell you that just four years later I totalled the same van again--(again, shouldn't have been my fault). But this time the van stayed dead. Bummer.
Nothing better happen today. Just sayin'. I think this day just might be cursed. ;D
Today I am grateful for safety regulations for cars. For obvious reasons. :)