Student hit by deer on campus tells all


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A deer near the Brimhall building on the BYU campus. BYU student Matt Easton was knocked over by a deer near the Joseph Smith Building. (Kjersten Johnson)

Christmas is right around the corner. So are the deer.

BYU student Matt Easton was walking to his 9 a.m. class Monday, Sept. 28, when he was knocked over by a deer.

Easton, from Salt Lake City studying international relations, was walking past the northwest entrance of the Joseph Smith Building when he felt someone, or something, hit him on his backside. At first Easton thought it was someone coming to hug him from behind.

“But then it hits me way hard, and I was like ‘who would do that?'” Easton said. The force of the deer knocked Easton to the ground, but his backpack cushioned the fall.  “It knocked the wind out of me!”

Easton looked up to see two deer running in front of him, and a few dozen students staring at him, unsure of how to react. “This one boy, he was so nice, was just yelling, ‘are you OK, are you OK?’ They all just watched me get up,” Easton said.

After Easton confirmed with a bystander that he had indeed been hit by a deer, he went to his next class but was so sore he couldn’t sit down.

A classmate of Easton’s witnessed the event and later told him the deer were frightened as everyone was coming out of their 8 a.m. classes. They bolted, and one jumped on the concrete sidewalk and lost its footing. It was sliding around, trying to regain balance and sprung into Easton from behind.

Dr. Brock McMillan, a professor in the college of life sciences, said that the deer, when startled, were trying to escape.

“They have hooves so they don’t have very good gripping on concrete or pavement,” McMillan said. “So they might have tried to avoid it, but it was too late. I don’t think they ever intentionally run into somebody unless they’re pinned in a corner.”

He estimated that there are probably 20 to 30 deer on campus.

“The ones that are here, live here year round,” McMillan said. He said a few might come down from the mountains when it gets cold, but the deer on campus are urban deer.

Easton said the first thing he did was call his parents because he “thought it was hilarious. Like, when would that ever happen to anybody?” he said.

The first thing one witness did was send a Snapchat message to her friends.

Emily Sheffield, a BYU student from Ogden, said, “I was just going to send it to a few friends, but I thought I would send it to campus story and try to get it on there.” The snap did make it onto BYU’s campus Snapchat story, and hundreds of students saw it.

“Someone I just met said, ‘Oh! You were the person that submitted the snap about the guy getting hit by a deer!'” Sheffield said. Thanks to Snapchat, Easton and Sheffield have a story to tell on campus.

Easton went to the University Police to look at the surveillance video. An officer questioned his intentions, and Easton told him he was hit by a deer. “He said, ‘Oh, you’re that one!  We’ve already been looking for it.'”

Although embarrassed by the fact that he was hit by a deer, Easton has been a good sport about it. His advice: “Ever since then I’ve noticed heaps of deer on campus. You gotta watch out.”

Good things antlers weren’t involved.

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