Chelsie Wardle: Most people don’t think of a wildlife vehicle collision as a life changing event… But for my family, it was.

Art Credit: Lucius Clark

I was traveling about 65 miles per hour in my Lincoln Town Car with my youngest daughter in the passenger seat when a deer jumped out in front of us. Fortunately, my then husband had told me repeatedly to not swerve if a deer jumped out in front of me. I listened to my husband in that moment, and I braced myself for impact. 

My Lincoln Town Car was a solid piece of steel with leather seats. It was incredibly sturdy- I used to refer to it as my “living room on wheels.” Luckily, my vehicle did it’s job protecting myself and my daughter from harm, and my daughter and I walked away from the accident without a scratch on us.

I am glad that I took my ex-husband’s advice. If I would have swerved, I could have very easily flipped my car into the river bottoms that my daughter and I were driving by- which could have seriously injured or killed both of us. Even more so, I was glad that I was in such a huge vehicle- if I hadn’t been, I am sure my daughter and I would be dead right now. 

However, this wasn’t the win you would expect it to be. 

The deer that was unfortunate enough to jump in front of me not only totaled my car, but it met a very violent and bloody death. Witnessing this gruesome death served to be an incredibly traumatic experience for my then 10 year old daughter. 

She had a hard time getting in vehicles after the accident, and even after she got her driver’s license, it took her a year to be able to have the courage to get onto the freeway or highways on her own. 

During a time when my child should have been excited about her new found freedom, she was instead terrified at the possibility of striking another animal or being involved in a more serious accident.

Many people do not think of wildlife vehicle collisions as a life changing event, but for my family, it was. Wildlife crossings have been shown to reduce these collisions by up to 90% where placed. I hope that our state continues to invest in these crossings to ensure another family doesn’t not have to go through what mine did. 

-Chelsie Wardle, Pleasant Grove, UT. 

How have wildlife vehicle collisions impacted your life? Share your story with us here: https://savepeoplesavewildlife.org/get-involved/