Deer are blamed for causing at least four Thanksgiving Day crashes on Kansas highways, including one that killed a teen, according to authorities.
The fatality crash occurred about 4:15 p.m. Thursday north of Medicine Lodge, in south-central Kansas, and killed 19-year-old Gracie Burenheide, of Attica, according to a preliminary report from the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Burenheide was driving north on U.S. Highway 281 when a southbound SUV struck a deer, causing the deer to go airborne, according to the report. Burenheide’s car then struck the airborne deer and went off the road into the ditch. The SUV came to rest in the opposite ditch.
A 22-year-old Medicine Lodge woman riding with Burenheide was injured and taken to a hospital, according to the report. A 64-year-old man driving the SUV and his 60-year-old female passenger were not injured.
All were wearing seat belts, according to the patrol’s report.
Three deer-related wrecks injured drivers on the Kansas Turnpike Thursday. According to preliminary reports from the Turnpike:
Just before midnight, between Andover and El Dorado, a minivan hit a deer, lost control and rolled into the ditch. The driver, a 40-year-old El Dorado man, was injured.
Around 9 p.m. near El Dorado, a car was unable to avoid striking a deer on the highway. That crash injured the driver, a 36-year-old Oklahoma City woman.
In the third accident, a 55-year-old Wellington woman was hurt after her SUV hit a deer in the road about 6 miles north of the Oklahoma border. The report did not include the time of the crash.
All three of those drivers were wearing seat belts, according to the Turnpike’s reports.
Kansas typically sees the highest number of deer-vehicle crashes in mid-November, when the “rut” — or mating season — peaks. Also in the fall, deer are increasingly active seeking new food sources and shelter, as their habitat transforms with crops being harvested and leaves falling from trees and shrubs.