Published May 25, 2006
CARBONDALE, Ill. – A woman who was among those injured in a series of deer attacks last year on Southern Illinois University's campus says she's suing the school, arguing officials didn't do enough to protect her.
Zhimin "Nancy" Wang, a doctoral student from China, was among the first of four people who sustained mostly minor injuries in the separate attacks during last June's fawning season, when officials say mother does tend to be more aggressive in protecting offspring.
Deer confronted three other people last year, with most of the encounters happening in or near the campus' sprawling Thompson Woods.
Wang, 30, filed notice of the claim with the Illinois Court of Claims on May 3, but has not yet filed the official complaint. Wang is seeking at least $50,000, with much of the money covering medical expenses tied to the broken clavicle that came from the June 7 attack, her attorney, Tiffany Sievers of Marion, said Thursday.
She said the university failed to swiftly act to better warn or safeguard campus pedestrians.
"They have a duty to protect their students, and they're not," Sievers said. "They were more concerned about deer being in their natural habitat than about [Wang] breaking her clavicle."
The university had not yet received a copy of Wang's claim Thursday, and university spokeswoman Sue Davis said she would not comment on it until school officials could review the matter.
More deer attacks were reported on the campus Tuesday. In separate instances a deer, perhaps the same one, caused minor injuries to three people as they were on a footpath along the school's Campus Lake.
One worker needed stitches for a gashed forehead, another suffered cuts, bruises and a sprained wrist, and a student was left with a scratched jaw, authorities said. Two of the victims sought medical treatment.
One of those attacked, SIU police Sgt. Harold Tucker, said Wednesday he tried to escape the charging doe that jumped from high brush as he walked the lakeside path.
But "as I turned to run she reared up and hit me on my shoulder hard enough that it knocked me into a tree very hard," said Tucker, who didn't see fawns in the area. "And from there I glanced off the tree and right into the lake."
This week's incidents came earlier in fawning season than last year's attacks, which officials attributed to a combination of protective motherly instinct, squeezed habitat and, in some cases, people trying to approach fawns. There was no indication that anyone hurt Tuesday provoked the deer.
University officials last week launched a public-awareness campaign to implore anyone on the campus to watch out for deer, to not approach the animals and, if a wild-eyed deer starts bounding their way, run.