WELLINGTON — Half a deer went through the windshield of a Jeep Cherokee on state Route 58 on Thursday after the animal was catapulted into the vehicle by a minivan traveling in the opposite direction.
The bizarre accident resulted in half of the eviscerated animal knocking the Jeep’s driver unconscious, while the passengers — the driver’s 30-year-old wife and two children, ages 1 and 3 — were not hurt, but they were splattered with the deer’s blood and guts, Ohio Highway Patrol troopers said.
The Jeep’s driver, Jeremy Bradford, 30, of Wellington, was flown from the scene to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries, including cuts to his head and face, Highway Patrol Trooper Christopher Ausse said.
He was listed in critical condition Thursday night, a nursing supervisor said.
The minivan-versus-deer-versus-Jeep accident happened about 5:30 p.m. just south of Griggs Road.
“It’s one of the stranger ones,” Ausse said, describing the unsettling scene.
The accident happened when a 1996 Dodge Caravan heading north on state Route 58 struck a deer that ran onto the road from the east, Ausse said.
The deer went airborne upon impact — flying into the opposing lane of traffic, where it was hit by Bradford’s Jeep. Bradford’s wife was in the passenger seat; their children were in the back seat, Ausse said.
Hitting the Jeep split the deer in half, with the front half of the antlered buck landing in the road and the rear crashing through the Jeep’s windshield, Ausse said.
“Half (the deer) went through the windshield, passing through the passenger compartment and into the back cargo area,” Ausse said.
En route, the deer-half struck Bradford in the head, Ausse said.
“He became unconscious once he was struck with the rear half of the deer,” Ausse said.
The Jeep continued forward until it came to a stop in a ditch. While Bradford’s family wasn’t physically injured, “they were covered in deer blood and guts and other pieces,” Ausse said.
“He had some lacerations to the face, and may have some other injuries to his face, head and neck,” Ausse said.
The minivan that first struck the deer was driven by Carl Baker, 46, of North Ridgeville, whose passenger was his wife, Donna, 50.
Neither was injured, Ausse said.
Ausse said he’s seen strange deer-car collisions before, but never one quite like what happened Thursday.
“I’ve seen deer that have gone into vehicles through the sunroofs,” Ausse said, recalling an incident where a deer was hit by a pickup and sent airborne until it landed on top of an oncoming Pontiac — and into the Pontiac’s sunroof.
“It went up and right into the compartment,” Ausse said.
Ausse cautioned drivers to look for deer while driving in the more rural portions of the county.
“People have to be aware they’re out there,” he said.
Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.