As I write my accident account, I look up from my writing to see the hunter/deputy who had disappeared into the woods emerge. He is greeted with handshakes and back slaps by the drunk family. The drunks are happy to see this person they apparently know, and start yelling to him loud enough for me to hear their voices inside the police car some 20 feet away from them.
The cop who was talking to the drunks walks over to the police car I'm sitting in and knocks on the window. I tell him that I stopped to avoid hitting a deer, only to be pushed into the deer when I was rear-ended. I add that I've already told this to the hunter/deputy person. He seems surprised at this (didn't he wonder why the hunter/deputy went into the woods?) and he asks me if I remember whether or not I stayed in my lane or did I try to swerve to miss the deer. He then tells me that the other driver didn't say anything about a deer (for some reason, I'm not surprised at her omission). According to the other driver, I simply came to a complete stop for no apparent reason (because that's what all drivers of new cars do – why would I want to keep my new car?) I tell the cop that I have a very clear memory of purposely staying straight in my lane as I went down the hill because I didn't want to hit the deer. The cop then walks back over to the two accident vehicles and measures the wheels and then goes up the hill to where tire marks are visible on the road. He measures the marks and comes back to the police car I'm sitting in. He leans into the window to tell me, “Well, right now, it looks like it was the other car who was swerving. Based on the measurements, your car looks like it stayed in a straight line.” I think to myself, 'didn't I just tell him that?' but I wisely don't tell him so.
Instead, I just nod and say “okay, so what do I do?” I hand him my report that I've finished filling out. He looks over the report and tells me that the other girl is almost finished with her report. Apparently, she is either in too much pain or is too distraught to fill out the report herself, so she is dictating the report to one of the ambulance personnel. I wait in the car for a few more minutes and watch a tow truck appear and begin to hook up cables to the other car. The cop whose car I'm sitting in approaches my wrecked car and checks it out, crawling under it and examining it with his flashlight. I get out of his police car and walk towards him. By now, the drunk family is loading up into their various vehicles. They sit in their cars with their headlights on and their motors running, making no move to actually leave the scene. The cop finishes checking my car and tells me that it appears to be okay to drive. He believes the damage to be mostly superficial. He asks me to get inside my car and start the engine. My car starts just fine, which is good news. I thank him for his help and ask what I'm supposed to do regarding accident follow-up, etc. He tells me to call my insurance company first thing the next morning and that I'll need to get a copy of the accident report from the sheriff's office to fax to the company. The report should be ready in 2-3 days.
Just as I'm about to leave, the hunter/deputy walks up to my car and motions for me to roll down my window again. He says that he's been looking over my report and he wants to know exactly where in the road the deer was when it was hit. I tell him that it was right in front of where my car is now sitting.
“Okay, miss, I followed that deer into the woods, but I don't see where it went. Are you sure you hit the deer? Maybe the deer ran away first?”
“No, I know I hit the deer. I felt my car hit it and I saw it lean on the hood of my car before it ran off.”
“It leaned on your car? How close were you to it?”
Once again, I'm wonder about this so-called deputy and his hunting habits. But I simply tell him, “I was as close as I could be sitting inside my car with the deer on the hood.”
He whips out his flashlight and begins intently going over the surface of my car's hood. He suddenly jerks upright, calls out “I found a hair!” and places the hair inside one of the evidence bags that they use on CSI. He seals up the bag and calls the police officer with the report clipboard over to record the forensic evidence. After all the documentation is recorded, including the length of the hair, he holds up the bag for me to see and shines a light through the bag to illuminate what he found. One small, white hair, about 2” long. That's the only thing to prove my word against the other driver.
“Good thing we found this hair. It's a deer hair alright. This proves that there was a deer. Well, that's it. You be careful tonight.” With a slam of his hand on my car's roof, I'm free to go. I carefully drive away from the scene, hoping that the rednecks go back to their house. They drive off in the other direction, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
I call the insurance company, meet with the adjuster, etc. over the next few days. I call the sheriff's office repeatedly to find out whether or not the accident report is completed yet. On day 3, the lady on the phone tells me that she can't tell me over the phone and that I have to come down there in person. The sheriff's office is in a different county that the one I live in, and it's 30 minutes away. I drive down there and go to the front desk and explain what I need. The receptionist has no idea what I'm talking about and has to call an officer to come to the front desk. When I tell the officer why I'm at the office, he opens the door leading to the back of the office and yells into the room, “Hey! Which one of you has that report on the driver that hit ******'s little girl?”
I explain to him that I didn't hit anyone, that I was the one hit. He looks at me like I'm crazy and hands me the accident report that was placed in his hand by another officer. “This your car on the report?”
“Yes, and here at the bottom is the accident description that states that my car was hit, not the other way around.” he shrugs and tells me that I need to fax this to my insurance company. I tell him okay, thank him for his help, and drive back home.
Once home, I call the insurance company to find out the fax number and the person assigned to my claim has me read the coding for the accident to her. I do so, to find out that the accident, according to the police report, is my fault due to reckless driving caused by a deer. After speaking to her, I call the sheriff's office and ask to speak to the officer who filled out the report. He answers the phone, and after hearing my reason for calling, tells me that I'm at fault since he can't fault the deer.
Don't you just love small towns?