The Washington Post

Tommy Wells stuck in Minnesota after hitting a deer, totaling wife's car

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, one of the council’s chief advocates for biking and walking, now has another reason to dislike cars.

Wells (D-Ward 6), who often boasts that he doesn’t own a car, is stranded in Minnesota because he totaled his wife’s Toyota Prius when a deer bolted from the woods north of Minneapolis and landed on his windshield.

The deer didn’t smash the windshield, but the force of the collision pushed the car’s radiator up into the engine. In the harrowing seconds after last week’s collision, Wells said he navigated to car to the shoulder, where he waited until help arrived.

“The tow truck driver and the trooper were really surprised I did not get injured,” Wells said. “That car absorbed the blow, and it did not send me into the ditch.”

Wells added that he did not see the deer until it was “almost face to face with the windshield.”

As tens of thousands of motorists find out each year, striking a deer can be a traumatic experience for even the most road-tested drivers, never mind a politician whose slogan is “building a livable, walkable” District.

In some instances, the terror associated with a deer-vehicle collision can even push drivers toward purchasing larger, gas-guzzling vehicles to provide an added sense of safety on the highway.

Wells, however, scoffed at suggestions that a now-dead deer could push his family into a large car. Wells said the bumper of the Prius crumpled as it was designed to, shouldering the impact so efficiently that the car’s airbags did not even inflate.

“My wife said the Prius saved my life,” Wells said.

Wells had driven his wife’s car to Minnesota so he could spend a few days at the family cabin near Lake Mille Lacs, about two hours north of Minneapolis. He hopes to be back in the District before public schools open next week. But, as of today, he doesn’t have a way to get home.

“I am either going to rent a car or buy Barbara another car or figure out an airplane, but I got my dog with me so it’s not easy to just jump on an airplane,” Wells said. “It’s a long bike ride.”

He did not mention rediscovering the bus.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.


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