BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There are an estimated 1.6 million deer-related car accidents per year in the United State.
And with an accident that hit a little too close to home, the Biloxi Police Department is urging motorists to take extra precaution out on the roads.
"Early Tuesday morning, between 2:30 and 3 o'clock in the morning, I was driving northbound just outside of Traditions," Biloxi Senior Patrolman Robert McKeithen said.
McKeithen had no idea a routine trip to Wiggins for police duties would result in totaling his patrol car.
"As I came around a curve, my lights picked up a deer right in the middle of the road way. I veered avoided that one," McKeithen said.
But, deer travel in herds. As soon as McKeithen swerved, his headlights illuminated a group of big green eyes starring right back at him.
"I struck the first one and my hood flew up into my windshield," McKeithen noted.
The patrolman had to use his instincts and react fast to keep his car from crossing the median and into southbound traffic.
"That time I felt two more jolts and I hit two other deer, my car went into a skid I got off into the right side of the road into wet mud into the ditch," added McKeithen.
McKeithen says he saw between 10 and 15 deer once he exited his car, and is lucky he got out with just a mark on his forearm from the airbag. Accidents involving deer can happen to anyone, and drivers should know how to react.
"I could tell you well you should do this you should do that, but you're gonna do whatever you're gonna do at this point. The average driver just has to slow down a little bit, engage in situational awareness, and avoid distracted driving," Biloxi Patrol Commander Jim Adamo said.
McKeithen's biggest advice?
"Wear your seat belt, the seat belts work and the air bags work and they save lives," McKeithen said.