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Somerset County, N.J. Residents On Edge After Man Is Horrifically Injured In Crash With Deer

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The holiday season is deer mating season – a dangerous time for drivers in some areas.

As CBS2's Elise Finch reported, police in one New Jersey town are warning people to be careful after a deer crashed into one man's car – leaving him in critical condition.

Deer are plentiful along South Middlebush Road in Franklin Township, Somerset County. They dart in and out of the wooded areas that line the busy street and congregate in nearby yards.

On Friday, a massive Buick slammed into Mark Rodgers' car. Police said it shattered the windshield of his Hyundai Elantra.

Mark Rodgers
Mark Rodgers was seriously injured in a collision with a deer in Franklin Township, New Jersey. (Credit: Paula Brown)

"The vehicle had struck a large deer – approximately 212 pounds. The deer came through the windshield and struck the driver, Mr. Rodgers, and ended up in the back seat of the car," said Franklin police Lt. Philip Rizzo.

Rizzo said pictures of the accident are so gruesome that the department will not release them.

The driver's sister-in-law declined to speak on camera, but told CBS2 the 63-year-old was left with significant brain trauma and was fighting for his life Monday.

This might sound like an extremely rare incident. But according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions every year, and 150 of those crashes result in the occupant's death.

People who live in the area said they are still shocked by the severity of the accident, but not that there was an accident.

"This is probably the second incident I think I've heard of on South Middlebush," said Angela Lanzara.

"I think it's just because New Jersey is so like overpopulated with the deer," said Branden Kenny.

"They become almost like immune to their surroundings, where they'll just come up to the edge of the road," said Joyce Mangino.

"It could happen to anybody," said John Thorkildsen.

"Especially during dawn and dusk, they're out and they're feeding, and they're running, so we want to make sure the drivers know – give a little bit of extra room to the driver in front of you. Make sure, especially in wooded areas, that you're very cognizant of your surroundings," said Lt. Rizzo.

Police said it did not appear the driver was speeding or driving erratically. They called it all a horrific accident -- one of the worst they've ever seen.

According to a survey by State Farm Insurance, drivers are twice as likely to hit a deer during mating season, which runs from October to December. Mating season is at its peak in late November.

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