Gardners woman's death first fatal deer-related crash in county in decade

2012-11-15T18:00:00Z 2012-11-16T10:22:27Z Gardners woman's death first fatal deer-related crash in county in decadeBy Travis Kellar, The Sentinel The Sentinel
November 15, 2012 6:00 pm  • 

A Gardners woman was killed in the first fatal vehicle crash caused by a deer in Cumberland County in more than a decade.

Christine M. Plank, 46, was a passenger in a 2000 Toyota Tundra that was traveling on Park Drive in South Middleton Township at 9:14 p.m. Saturday.

Police say the deer hit the top of the hood, went through the windshield, hit Plank and came to rest in the back seat.

Plank was flown by Life Lion to Hershey Medical Center where she died due to the injuries she suffered in the crash, according to police.

The vehicle was driven by Todd A. Plank, 45, of Gardners, who suffered minor injuries but was not taken to the hospital.

Yellow Breeches EMS assisted on the scene.

Greg Penny, a spokesman for PennDOT, said that Saturday’s crash was the first deer-related crash resulting in a fatality in Cumberland County in more than a decade.

Other areas of the state have had fatalities due to deer-related crashes in the past years. Statewide, there were eight in 2007, 11 in 2008, five in 2009, eight in 2010 and nine in 2011. Over the past five years in the region, Dauphin County had the most fatalities with four – two in 2008 and one each in 2010 and 2011 – while York County had three, Adams County had two, and Perry and Lancaster counties each had one fatality.

From 2007 to 2011, Penny reports that there have been more than 14,802 collisions involving deer, resulting in 3,184 injuries and 41 fatalities throughout the state. The number of collisions in 2007 were 2,498, and that number has increased to 3,403 in 2011. In the PennDOT Engineering District 8, which covers the counties of Franklin, Perry, Cumberland, Adams, Dauphin, York, Lebanon and Lancaster, there have been a total of 2,170 collisions involving deer with 454 injuries and 11 deaths.

Mating season

Jerry Feaser, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said that while deer traffic across roadways will pick up in November, it is not due to hunting activity.

“If you remove all human factors, the deer rut is what is moving deer at this time,” Feaser said.

Otherwise known as the deer mating season, the deer rut typically peaks sometime in November, which Feaser said is when car crashes with deer also peak and eventually trail off in December.

A similar phenomenon occurs in the spring as young deer begin to be pushed out of their territory by doe looking to give birth. Feaser said that as younger deer are pushed out of their territory, it will typically lead to more deer-related car crashes as they wander into unfamiliar territory.

Surprisingly, areas where hunting is prohibited are not devoid of deer-related accidents.

“In areas where hunting is not allowed, you will likely see more vehicle collisions with deer because the hunters are not there to harvest deer and keep the numbers in check,” Feaser said.

In the midst of the peak of the deer rut, Penny urged drivers to be aware of the increased potential of hitting deer. Both he and Feaser said that drivers should be most cautious at dawn and dusk when deer activity is at its highest. If a deer is in the middle of the road, Penny encouraged drivers give a long blast with their horn in an attempt to get it out of the roadway. He also warned drivers to not swerve to hit the deer, as it may either confuse the deer.

Feaser agreed and said that doing so may increase the odds of creating other dangerous scenarios for drivers.

“In many cases, it may be safer to just hit the deer head on rather than try to swerve around it,” Feaser said.

Regardless of the precautions that drivers can take, Penny said drivers should also be cautious in the event that a deer is struck. If the animal is not killed by impact, he said that drivers should avoid the injured animal, pull of to the side with emergency flashers on and call for help.

Along with precautions, Penny said the drivers should not forget the basics.

“It makes a difference having your seatbelt on,” Penny said.


Posted at 10:07 a.m. on Cumberlink:

A Gardners woman was killed after a vehicle hit a deer in South Middleton Township at 9:14 p.m. Saturday.

According to State Police at Carlisle, Christine M. Plank, 46, died after the 2000 Toyota Tundra she was a passenger in hit a deer on Park Drive.

Police say the deer hit the top of the hood of the vehicle, went through the windshield, hit Plank and came to rest in the back seat.

Plank was flown by Life Lion to Hershey Medical Center where she died due to the injuries she suffered.

The vehicle was driven by Todd A. Plank, 45, of Gardners, who suffered minor injuries but was not taken to the hospital.

Yellow Breeches EMS assisted on the scene.

Copyright 2015 The Sentinel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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