I hit a deer with the ST the other morning and I am thankful to be alive (and well) tonight. It was about 5:30am, on the interstate and I was traveling in the left lane going between 70 and 75. The deer ran out perpendicular to my path of travel and I hit her directly broadside. The bike is totaled (although Progressive has not yet officially declared it so). Defying all logic, I have only a bruise on my right ankle and left knee to show for it. It was incredible that the bike did not go down and I was able to limp over to the emergency lane to park the bike.
I have re-played the collision in my mind many times trying to figure out how I avoided going down. I won't pretend that I made correct "decisions" because it all happened too fast to take conscious actions. Nonetheless, whether through training, instinct, or just dumb luck, I didn't lock my brakes and I didn't try to swerve (not that I had time to attempt a swerve in the first place). I think if I'd done either of those things, I would have gone down.
I saw the deer coming in the corner of my eye a fraction of a second before I hit her. I got on the brake hard, but it was only a couple of tenths of a second before the collision. The impact threw the front wheel hard to the left, but somehow I managed to bring it back. By this time, the front end was shaking violently, probably because the fork was knocked out of whack. But the instant after I hit her, I remember thinking "I'm still up-right! I can save this!" and just kept even pressure on the brakes. I glanced back on my right and saw that the mini-van I was passing had slowed way down now and was probably 50 or so feet behind me, so I pulled into the right lane and just kept on going to the emergency lane where I brought it to a stop and parked it on the side stand.
I'm pretty sure my right ankle is bruised from the deer's legs whipping back against that side of the bike after I hit her. She went spinning off to my right before landing dead on the white line on the right. The state trooper who moved her from the roadway said her skull was crushed, so I think her head hit the glass headlight enclosure (it was completely smashed out). A large chunk of fairing on the right side of the bike tore away and the entire front fairing and console is now out of whack. The little doors on the fairing pockets, for example, won't shut and the whole fairing sits about an inch above the tank where it used to fit flush. The radiator also appears to be destroyed. There may be other damage - I haven't seen the bike since it was hauled off on the back of the wrecker.
I'm not sure how my left knee got bruised. I was wearing my padded pants, but my knee must have smashed into the fairing or something.
I wouldn't try to suggest what actions a rider should take in the same situation. As I said, I don't recall making any conscious decisions in the split second that the collision ocurred. It just happened. But this event has reinforced my opinion that you should never give up or give in to "the inevitable." How many times have you heard "the car turned left in front of him, there was nothing he could do," or "sometimes you don't have any choice but to lay it down," or "if you hit a deer on a motorcycle at speed, you're going down." None of those situations are good, but I firmly believe there is NO situation in which the rider has NO control over his ultimate fate. You may not be able to prevent the crash, but you can still mitigate the damage. No doubt, I defied the odds the other day, but if I had just given up once the collision was inevitable, I might not be alive tonight and I certainly wouldn't have just walked away from it.
At this point, my main concern is how quickly I can get riding again. Due to my odd work schedule, I have been playing a lot of phone-tag with the insurance adjuster, so I haven't yet heard Progressive's proposal. I get the impression she may still be thinking in "repair" mode, but I seriously doubt the bike can be repaired to my standards at any reasonable cost. Have any of you had experience with major repairs to a crashed ST? I'm not in the mood to wait around for months during the Summer riding season waiting for a shop to rebuild this thing only to find that they did a poor job. I'd rather just agree on a settlement amount for the totaled bike so I can go out and buy another one.
› Site Search for: Gamecock vs. Deer at 70mph