My Jesus Take the Wheel moment

It was probably 5 o clock in the morning. It was pitch black. I was driving into town for work when all of a sudden a head and shoulder emerged from the darkness and i realized an axis doe had entered the stream of my left headlight. I was on the highway. The deer was close enough to my car that had the window been open i could have touched it. At 65 mph i realized that during the next half a second the deer would be completely in front of my car and i would hit it. I had already sussed out the differences between white tailed and axis deer in my years living in Texas. If a white tailed deer made a decision to cross a road and then heard the screeching of brakes or a loud noise like the horn honking, it would likely get spooked and change directions. This direction change was often into oncoming traffic and a worse idea than the original one but white tailed deer dont asses the situation and make an informed decision based on the flow of traffic, they just pick a direction and switch. Axis deer; once they make a decision to travel in a certain direction they fully commit. You can lay on that horn or screech the brakes all you want, they made a decision and they’re sticking with it. So when i saw the size of the doe and the spots in the headlight i knew this was a deer that was not going to change directions. It was a sure thing collision and so it was up to me to do all the avoiding for the both of us. This lumbering beast could be counted on to go forwards no matter what in all conditions. I had a fraction of a second to think and in that moment it registered that we appeared to be in the middle of world war 3 with Russia, the pandemic with limited resources and experiencing a severely strangled worldwide import/export network. If i totaled this car i would need double what a new used car was worth to purchase it just because of supply and demand and i wouldn’t be able to pick a car with historically low maintenance requirements based on my research, i would have to take what i could get, problems and all. Lets just say i was very motivated in that moment to not total the car.

I turned the steering wheel to the right as hard as i figured i could at highway speeds without flipping the car but the deer, sure enough, kept coming. It was inches in front of my car now and i was still going to full on hit it. So i did the only thing i could think to do in that moment with the full body of a bulky axis doe clearly visible in all of its entirety in the windshield view of the darkness before me. I pressed the brakes harder and turned even more severely to the right. I saw the back legs of the deer as i realized it had made it out of its predicament and in a split second i realized i had managed not to hit it but now i had a different problem of my own, one that no longer had anything to do with the axis doe. My car was spinning in circles. Outside the windshield all i could see was darkness. The headlights were not illuminating anything because there was no time to focus on any one thing before i was somewhere else. I knew i was going in circles and still traveling at a pretty high rate of speed but i wasnt sure what part of the road i was on and that concerned me. There was one lane in each direction and at night if a car came around the bend at highway speeds and i was doing circles in their lane they would likely hit me before they could stop. I wasn’t sure whether i was in my lane or oncoming traffic’s lane, though i dont know why it would have mattered because if i was going in circles i wasn’t traveling in the same direction as either lane of traffic. I wanted to stop spinning. I was getting dizzy and very concerned about where my car was going at such a high rate of spin. What if i went off the road and hit a building? So i tried to gain control of the car. I feathered the brake and tried to turn against the spin with the steering wheel. Nothing happened. I pushed down moderately on the brake and continued to try to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the spin. At this point i made progress in turning the steering wheel and then quickly realized that was not a good thing as i felt two of the car’s wheels come up off the ground and the vehicle began to tip. I realized i was going to roll my suv over. Everything i had done so far in order to manage the problem i had identified in front of my face had handled the acute issue at hand and then made a bigger issue for me to deal with after. Seeing as the current issue i was facing was the car actively rolling over on the highway with me in it, i didnt want to know what problem i would have to deal with next if i thought my way out of this one. So i took my foot off the brake, let go of the steering wheel, put my hands up palms towards the front window and said out loud, “Oh God, Oh God…” i figured, everything i had done had made it worse so why not try letting go and doing nothing. The wheels crashed to the ground, the steering wheel spun back to the position it had desired before i tried so hard to pull it the other way, it registered in the blurr of darkness that i was no longer spinning…i was traveling straight, and all of a sudden my car stopped. I looked out the front window and realized i was in a ditch. In the darkness i could see a sign that read “Worship Service”. I was in a ditch facing a church and their illuminated sign read the topic for tomorrow’s worship service. I didn’t read the whole thing. All i saw was the first word in capital letters: “GOD”. I couldn’t believe it. I had tried so hard to get myself out of that situation and everything i had done had just made it worse. I let go of the steering wheel and ended up stopped in a ditch with a fully functional and intact car facing a church with a sign that read “GOD”. I was immediately overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and probably residual adrenaline. I rolled down the window and said to the black sky in the endless darkness “thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you God, thank you Jesus, oh my Jesus, thank you, thank you.” I was really shook and so relieved i found myself crying out of gratitude. I just did not see a way out of that and yet he made a way. I sat there in the ditch in front of the church for about five minutes collecting myself. Then i put the car in reverse, backed out of the ditch, climbed up onto the highway, and drove the rest of the way in to town. I told a couple people in the break room before shift what had happened but once work began there was no time for chit chat. Life marched on but that moment stuck with me. I felt as though the second i let go of that steering wheel God reached down in the dark and stopped the car like an out of control hot-wheel. I think God is a much better driver than i am…sometimes he just can’t steer the car if you’re still white knuckling the wheel.

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  1. I have had people tell me i should have sped up because the rule of thumb is if you speed up the deer goes under and if you slow down the deer goes over and into the windshield. I dont think that rule applies to this car. It has a plastic thing on the underside that has caused me all sorts of problems over the years. It gets stuck in mud, on curbs, and apparently means steeply inclined driveways are not something this suv is capable of dealing with. If you want to know why its there, ask kia…they’re the ones who designed it. The purpose beats me. All i know is that i hit a porcupine and it did not go under. So if a porcupine couldn’t fit in the two inch space under the car, an axis deer probably wouldn’t either.

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