Collision with deer has family warning drivers: Beware


Eric W. Parrish holds his nephew Garrison Smith in this family photo from before Parrish was seriously injured in an accident. (Courtesy photo)

Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.

Eric W. Parrish has always been an outdoors kind of guy, his family says.

He enjoys fishing and mud bogging, and has been working in construction for 10 years, they said, in large part because he likes being outside.



This month, Parrish turned 30 in a hospital.

The Lake Butler man suffered critical head injuries on May 4 in a bizarre accident around 7 a.m. on State Road 121 north of Gainesville.

His family said Parrish is slowly recovering, and an aunt has taken the unusual step of broadcasting a notice on local radio stations updating the community on his progress while warning drivers to be wary of deer on the roads.

LaCrosse resident Richard Swygart, 29, was driving a 2010 Chevy Malibu north on SR 121 near the intersection with County Road 236 when he hit a deer that crossed directly in front of his vehicle, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The deer was knocked into the southbound lane and into the path of Parrish's 1989 Toyota Tacoma pickup. The deer went through Parrish's windshield, hitting him and traveling out the truck's rear window, troopers said.

The Tacoma continued on SR 121 until it left the roadway and struck a fence and tree.

Parrish was transported to the Shands at the University of Florida critical care unit, where he spent two weeks.

He was then transferred to the intensive care unit at another hospital on May 15.

On May 26, he was moved to an open room at the facility for further evaluation and treatment. Doctors are unsure how long it will take him to reach full recovery, according to his mother, Diane Parrish.

"He's making progress every day," she said. "But he has a long recovery ahead of him."

Recovery could take anywhere from a few weeks to months, said Linda Tanner, Parrish's aunt.

Tanner, owner of Alachua Farm & Lumber, said she began running the radio message to remind people about the importance of watching out for deer when driving. She said every week she hears stories of people hitting deer.

"They're just out there on these rural roads, and people need to know that hitting one could be life-threatening," she said. "People need to slow down."

Diane Parrish said the family is thankful for the support they've received from friends and community members.

"We're so grateful for all of the phone calls and concern," she said. "We're just asking everyone to keep Eric in their prayers."

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