Apparently, this happens to me once a decade…

6 minute read

September 20, 2020, 2:32 PM

Saturday night’s drive home was definitely a more eventful one than I would have preferred.  Driving home from work (I currently work out of a division in Virginia), I tend to take Route 267 to the Beltway to I-270 and then to Route 355 (i.e. Rockville Pike) on my way north to Montgomery Village.  The details in MoCo tend to vary depending on my mood.  Sometimes I take 270 all the way to Shady Grove and cut over there, and sometimes I get off lower down and do more travel on Rockville Pike.  Saturday night was the latter, where I got off on Democracy Boulevard and took Rockville Pike all the way from North Bethesda to Gaithersburg.

At the intersection with First Street (the one with the CVS and the Wendy’s with the glass sign), I was sitting at a red light in the middle lane, and I saw a car run the red light at a high rate of speed in the right lane.  They were going quickly enough that I could feel their wake as they went by (and I felt them before I saw them).  Then a few seconds later, just as the light turned green, a Maryland state trooper went past me, again at a high rate of speed, with lights off, to my left.  I kind of assumed that they were related, and that I would see the trooper pull the other vehicle over at some point on my way home.  So I had my eyes peeled, as I expected to see blue lights at some point.

Then, just before the intersection with Mannakee Street, a deer darted out in front of me, and with not enough space to swerve to avoid and not enough distance to stop, we made contact.  I remember screaming as we hit, and I saw the deer sort of stagger away.  I stopped the car immediately, right there in the center lane.  I got out, looked at the front of the car, and saw a brand new hole where the grille used to be, pieces of the front of the car sticking out of the front, as well as bits and pieces of the Honda logo on the road.  Then, realizing that the engine was still running, and seeing nothing dripping out from underneath, I moved the car to the parking lot of Cameron’s Seafood, and after letting Elyse know that I would be delayed, called 911 to report the accident.  Surprisingly, 911 told me that for a deer strike, they weren’t going to send an officer to take a report, and just to follow up with the insurance.

And this is what the damage looked like:

The damage caused by the deer, immediately following the collision

I checked under the car for any leaks one more time, and, seeing none, I determined that it was safe to continue, though I did pull off those loose parts that were hanging off before leaving.  I didn’t want those to break off and fall away at an inopportune time, so I just did it on the spot for safety (and those pieces would need to be replaced regardless).

When I got home, Elyse wanted to see the scene of the collision for herself.  So we went back out to the scene of the accident.  Elyse collected the bits of the Honda logo from the road, and we also found the deer lying in the median, dead.  I had hoped that the deer would have gotten away, considering that it staggered away from the accident, but apparently not.  It got to the median and died right there:

Dead deer in the median of Hungerford Drive

Apparently, the deer’s left hind leg was broken in the collision, which is consistent with the way that we made contact, and the way that it was moving when it was staggering away.  Hopefully it didn’t suffer for long.  Elyse, meanwhile, noticed some feces beneath its tail, and remarked that I quite literally knocked the crap out of it, as some animals do tend to involuntarily poop in situations like this.

Then this is what the HR-V looks like now, with its brand new grille (or lack thereof):

The damage to the HR-V in daylight

The damage to the HR-V in daylight

The damage to the HR-V in daylight

From everything that I can tell, I came out pretty well.  Everything still runs, though I’m likely looking at a new grille, a new front bumper, possibly a new right headlight, and a few other miscellaneous odds and ends.  Once the insurance stuff goes through, the HR-V will spend a few days in the body shop, and she should be good as new.

Meanwhile, apparently a deer strike is something that happens to me about once a decade.  We had a run-in with a deer on I-81 near Woodstock, Virginia on Thanksgiving back in 1994 on our way up to Connecticut to see relatives.  Dad was driving in that case, but we were all there to see it.  This is the damage to the Previa from that collision:

The damage to the Previa after its collision with a deer

That was my nineties run-in with a deer.  Then you may recall that I had an encounter with a deer on the Blue Ridge Parkway while driving the Sable back in 2006.  The Soul never had a run-in with a deer, but I did hit a bird and run over a chipmunk, both on the same day.  The Soul never made a visit to the body shop, either.  It just self-immolated and that was the end of that.  Then for the 2010s, I ran over a deer with the train in 2018.  It was the same day that the Washington Capitals had their parade for winning the Stanley Cup.  I was running the last train of the night, and as I was going down the line, I saw this deer running up the track between the running rails.  No amount of emergency braking would have prevented that collision because of the distance required to stop, and I watched the deer go under the train.  I felt a little bump as it went by.  I called that in, saying, “Central, this is 191, track 1 in approach to Rockville.  We hit a deer.”  I’m sure everyone in the control center was like, “Ah, crap,” because the last train of the night’s being late makes a whole ton of other people late because the last trains meet up in order to accommodate everyone’s last transfers.  That means that the entire system is late closing down.  I ended up finding the deer’s head and neck behind the train while doing an inspection immediately after I had stopped.  Additionally, a communications coil on my lead car, 7306, was damaged in the accident (this coil almost always gets damaged in collisions involving wildlife, so that was the first thing that I looked for).  Since it happened so close to the beginning of the line, they just brought me another train down from the terminal, everyone stepped over to the new train, and we kept it moving.  Coincidentally, by the way, last night’s deer collision happened within sight of the place where I ran the deer over with the train.

So there you have it, I suppose.  I got my 2020s deer accident in early, and hopefully my track record stays at once a decade, i.e. I don’t want to see the body shop again for a long time after this.