Archive for Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Driver swerved to miss deer in I-70 accident; Five people taken to area hospitals

August 31, 2011, 11:14 p.m. Updated September 1, 2011, 11:44 a.m.


A Topeka man swerved to miss a deer Wednesday night in an accident on the Kansas Turnpike between the Lecompton interchange and McDonald Drive exit in Lawrence that left five people injured, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol report.

Andrew Michael Cravens, 20, was listed as the driver of a 2000 Pontiac car in the accident that occurred about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70. After Cravens swerved, the car left the road and struck a guardrail.

Five people were transported to area hospitals Wednesday night, including one passenger with serious injuries who was flown via a helicopter ambulance to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka. When medics arrived, they reported the vehicle had driven through one of the bridge guardrails in the westbound lanes.

The four passengers in the car were Daniel J. Mason, 18; Nicole Jackson, 17; Amanda Elizabeth Moran, 18, all of Topeka; and, Chris Mason, 24, of Universal City, Texas.

A Kansas Turnpike Authority dispatcher said Daniel Mason, who was believed to have the most serious injuries, was flown to Stormont-Vail. The four other people injured were all taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital initially.

Cravens and Moran, were later transferred to Stormont-Vail, said Belinda Rehmer, an LMH spokeswoman. Cravens was listed in fair condition Thursday at Stormont-Vail, a spokeswoman said.

Chris Mason was treated and released from LMH, and Jackson was in fair condition Thursday morning, Rehmer said.

According to the report, no one in the car wore a seat belt.


Currahee 6 years, 5 months ago

I saw this on my way back from toepka. I counted 2 ambulances then 3-4 more followed suit. Glad to hear most of em are okay...

justforfun 6 years, 5 months ago

I do believe we need to deignate I-70 as safety corridor. That make several accidents in the past year.

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 5 months ago

What the hell is a "safety corridor", pray tell?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

I have a very personal story about an accident that occurred some years ago that involved one deer, one pickup, and one car.

That accident resulted in one dead deer, two totaled vehicles, one fire, one broken leg, one widow, and two fatherless daughters.

Because a driver swerved to miss a deer.

My very personal part of the story is best to not yet be public.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

I do need to write about the personal part.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

I should, in order to maintain historical accuracy, point out that no one is for absolute sure that someone swerved their vehicle in order to miss the deer. It is possible that it was caused by an inadvertent change in one of the vehicle's direction after colliding with the deer.

Because there were only two people who really knew exactly what happened.

And one of them was dead, and the other was so disoriented by the crash, getting smashed on the head, the fire, trying to get both the women and both the little girls out of the vehicles, and then watching the other driver stuck in his car being burned alive that there was no way he could have been sure.

imastinker 6 years, 5 months ago

This is exactly correct. I don't swerve for anything smaller than me.

blindrabbit 6 years, 5 months ago

Pywacket: "Stupid animal" or stupid humans; the deer did not build the highway, just doing what they have been doing for millions of years.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

A couple weeks ago, I was trying to help a rather inexperienced driver learn to safely drive on the highway. She can drive just fine in town, but the highway is a whole different thing. I repeated over and over to her, NEVER swerve to miss a deer!

And you know what? She was practicing highway driving very near, less than a mile, of where this accident occurred. We very well could have hit that very same deer ourselves.

Stay in your lane and hit the brakes as quick as you can, that's the best thing you can do.

Go ahead and hit the deer, the deer will probably die and your car will be damaged, but you and your passengers are very unlikely to get hurt at all. If you do get hurt, it is certainly going to be very minor.

A car weighs so much more than a deer that you hardly even slow down at all when you hit it, so you will still have to keep the brakes on to stop.

I was once a passenger in a vehicle that hit a deer. My father was driving, and there was a deer standing in the ditch ahead of him. He wasn't paying attention to the little things around the road, and at the very last split second, the deer jumped in front of our pickup.

My Dad knew to not swerve, he just slammed on the brakes real quick. Then, we hit the deer.

But, I don't think I ever told the new driver that I had actually gone through that myself. I just told her over and over, and even had her write it down, DO NOT swerve to miss a deer!

That time when my father was driving, he kept his foot on the brakes after we hit the deer, and we ended up in the ditch anyway. But by that time we were moving at a very low rate of speed so we were fine.

But the deer died.

We never did get that dent in the front of the pickup fixed, because the damage was so small that it wasn't worth it, we just drove it like that. Just a couple weeks ago, I looked at some old pictures I have of that pickup, and was reminded of that event.

The strange thing is, just about every driver here in the midwest is told over and over to NOT swerve to miss a deer, and yet so many people still do it anyway.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

One more thing: After you hit a deer, you still have to steer the car and stay in your lane!

Because there is no way a deer is going to stop your car.

Erin Graham 6 years, 5 months ago

THANK YOU!!!! This should be beaten in every kids head in drivers ed!!! It's been a few eons, but I don't remember ever talking about it...

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

This is one of your sources:

"Over the five-year period 2005-09, 1,017 people died in vehicle-animal collisions, according to the IIHS."

That is five years.

Every year, about 43,000 people are killed in the USA in car accidents.

5 x 43,000 = 215,000 deaths from all car accidents occurred during that time period.

1,017 / 215,000 = 0,00473

That means that 0.0000473% of all car accident victims were due to car/animal collisions. That includes not only deer, but all animals.

Yes, it is possible to die from a deer going through your windshield, but it is not very likely, unless you drive a small car. I certainly would not want to hit a deer while driving a Mazda Miata!

But, if you drive a larger vehicle such as an SUV or a minivan, it is not very likely you are going to have a deer go through your windshield. I grew up and spent a lot of time in western Kansas, where a lot of car/deer collisions take place.

I have never heard of a deer going through a windshield.

You can find exceptions to any rule, every driving situation is different.

Your sources claim about 203 fatalities per year, which is not very many compared with about 43,000.

In many or most cases, swerving to avoid a collision is not very safe. We certainly had a very dramatic demonstration of that only yesterday on Iowa Street.

But, yes, you are certainly correct in your statement:

The real trick is to pay attention 100 % of the time while you are driving and continuously scan the sides of the road ahead of you. This will not always avoid an accident but it sure increases your chances of reacting in a timely manner.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Only 28 years of driving?

I've been driving for 52 years, starting at the age of 4.

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 5 months ago

Humans are usually the stupid species.

Food for thought.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

No, humans are the smartest.

Because we are the only species that has ever discovered ways to destroy the environment of the earth.

Mike Hoffmann 6 years, 5 months ago

Most people know not to swerve to miss a deer. However, when something jumps out in front of you while you're driving 60-70 mph, your natural instinct is going to be to try and avoid it. When there is only a split second to react natural instinct is going to win a lot of the time.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

That's very true. And that is why you have to think when you are driving.

Animals almost always react with a natural instinct, and that is why some animals are difficult to train.

And for the same reason, some people are also difficult to train.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

I would sure hate to be a passenger in a jumbo jet if the pilot was reacting with natural instincts.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

This is good advice: If you want to be constantly employed, go to vo-tech school and learn auto body repair.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 5 months ago

Deer don't usually jump in front of planes at 34,000 feet. (Before some know-it-all calls me out, I said "usually"!)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

That's very true. But this is an example of how a pilot should never trust his instincts:

One of the biggest killers in small propeller planes is the disorientation that occurs when flying under instrument conditions, that is, through the clouds. This never happens in jets, only in small propeller planes.

It's very difficult to learn that you have to trust your indicators, and not how it feels to you. The reason is that when diving down through the clouds towards the earth, it feels exactly as though you are flying perfectly level. It really feels that way!

And then, when you break the cloud cover, the ground or the sea is right in front of you, and you will either fly right into the earth, mountain, or sea, or, in some small planes, it is actually possible to break off the wings trying to pull up to avoid that.

That is exactly how John F. Kennedy, Jr. and many other people have died.

It takes training to fly an airplane at all, and much more so to fly in instrument conditions through the clouds.

Again, this NEVER happens in jets, only in small propeller planes.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

I've had deerburgers. They tasted awful.


tolawdjk 6 years, 5 months ago

Amen. Deer makes awful burgers. No fat content.

Now chilli, or sausage, or even meatloaf is a different story.

midwestmom 6 years, 5 months ago

It may make you sad to hit and kill an animal with your car, but it is forever devastating to kill another human being while trying to avoid hitting an animal. We've repeatedly, over and over told our kids to HIT THE DEER, RACCOON, SKUNK - WHATEVER it is, but never swerve. My husband also tells the kids to not panic stop - their car can be hit from the rear by a vehicle going highway speed and die (either from the tremendous impact or by being pushed into oncoming traffic).

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

It's always a judgment call when a bad situation occurs while you are driving.

The only thing you can do is always watch your surroundings so that when an emergency occurs, you won't be taken totally by surprise.

One of the worst emergencies that I've ever experienced was when I was driving the airport shuttle service from Lawrence to KCI (MCI). I have always taken my driving very seriously, and I believe I had three passengers that had paid for that ride.

I was driving at night on highway 32, along a stretch where it is straight but has many hills, and of course, driving at highway speed.

Suddenly, the headlights went out.


There was nothing but blackness in front of me, and I was driving about 60 mph.

In a flash, I realized that there was only one thing I could do, and that was to keep my eyes on the taillights of a car that was way ahead of me, and aim the car straight towards it. And, stop the car as fast as possible, before that car crested the hill and then I would have no guidance at all.

I got stopped just fine, and after I had pulled over into a driveway, I realized that I could see just a bit with the signal lights, which had not shut off.

There was nothing else to do but continue at a very slow speed, and I considered that to be safe because the taillights were still working.

After a few minutes, the headlights came on again.

So, I drove slowly the rest of the way to Lawrence, ever ready for the headlights to quit again, but they didn't.

As the passengers opened the doors in Lawrence, I was sure I was going to get an earful.

But no. I was the only one that was worried!

I had some hot words with the boss about that event. He said, "Oh, yeah. We've had problems with the headlights on that car."

Well, I had more hot words for the boss.

His excuse was, "Well, we thought you'd be back before dark."

But, no one should get worried, that happened in the 1970s. The shuttle service today is a totally different company, and I'm sure they use better cars!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Hey! You know who you are!

Remember that damn Ford?

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