One Monday morning, I was working a day shift. I’m not too fond of day shifts. It is boring, and I have to wake up at an ungodly hour, and sometimes go hours without a call for service. I work in a rural area, so that comes with the territory. If I do get a call, it’s more like an adult day-care situation than it was policing. “My neighbor cut their lawn too close to mine, and it blew grass clippings into my yard!” “My neighbor’s dog got out and chased my cat. Can you give him a ticket for an animal at large but please ignore that I have 40 unlicensed cats and feeding stations throughout town.” You know, the usual.
Well, this day would prove to be different. I was sitting in my usual spot, hoping to get in a little rural interdiction. I got my warm cup of morning delight, I got a Joe Rogan podcast episode going, and my eyes were glued to my lonely stretch of highway. It was going to be a lovely sunny morning, and I would make the best out of my situation.
Our little town has an airport, and its most frequent fliers are patients being flown from our small regional hospital to another in a major metropolitan area. A few locals have planes there, but there is not much air traffic. So try and imagine my surprise when I was dispatched to our airport to investigate a problem. I was not given very much information other than a tail number and that they needed to speak with a deputy.
I arrive at our little airstrip, and I see one of the hospital’s planes parked outside the taxiway. The propeller was missing. I could see what appeared to be blood caked all over the front landing gear strut. Blood spattered all over the right-wing, and up under the fuselage was what appeared to be cherry pie filling. We call that in law enforcement a clue.
As I got closer to the plane, I noticed that clumps of fur mixed in with the red matter. Not a little bit, mind you, but stuck to what I was positive was blood, was fur—deer fur, to be exact.
Earlier that morning, just as I came on shift, this plane was scheduled to pick up a patient and take them to another hospital. Instead, the plane landed, and Bambi was in the middle of the runway. Unfortunately, the aircraft struck the deer with the prop bringing a whole new meaning to “the pink mist” as the remains bounced off the undercarriage and left-wing root.
I have taken many car vs. deer crash reports. I am lucky that 99% of my crash reports are just that. This would be a defining moment in my career, as it was my first and so far only airplane vs. deer crash report. As with all my car vs. deer reports, I typically document evidence that the vehicle did, in fact, hit a deer, usually in the form of a picture of said dead deer. In the case of the airplane vs. deer, I never found anything more than what was smeared on the plane. Two of us spent about an hour trying to find the remains, and there was not even remotely a sign of anything on or near the runway. I have not ruled out the possibility of Santa’s reindeer at this time.
It has been said that being a law enforcement officer gives you front-row tickets to the greatest show on earth. In our chosen career, officers will see and experience some of the funniest situations, so outlandish that if you saw them in a movie, you would say, “That cannot be real.” It is with little doubt that something different will happen every day we go to work.