Deer on a road

A student at Rattlesnake Elementary School was sent to the hospital Tuesday morning for injuries after being “knocked down forcefully” by a deer that jumped the school's fence, according to a district official.

Missoula County Public Schools could not comment on the extent of the student's injuries but noted they were not life-threatening. 

"A deer ran from the playground, jumping over the fence and knocked over a student with a good deal of force," said Missoula County Public Schools spokesperson Hatton Littman. "It sounds like the animal was in an area where it was confined and confused and probably was just trying to flee."

The district said first responders were called to the scene, and a school secretary and a teacher who are trained in first aid attended to the student before first responders transported the child to the hospital.

A number of students witnessed the incident, which occurred Tuesday morning as buses were dropping off children along the backside of the school, near the playground and blacktop where third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students line up in the morning.

"We had teachers clear the area and get all the students inside so that their safety was covered, and they also weren't witnessing the situation longer than they needed to," Littman said.

Principal Pam Wright was out for the day, but a substitute principal, a school counselor and teachers have been talking with the students who may be concerned for their peer or scared by the situation. The district also notified parents Tuesday afternoon.

The district reminds families in letters each fall that they live in areas where they may encounter deer, bears and mountain lion and asks them to be aware of interactions with wildlife.

School administrators contact 911 and/or Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks if an animal that's close to campus is perceived to be a threat.

"In this instance, I think it probably all happened so quickly and people weren't aware of the deer on or near the ground, and it was just an incredibly freak accident," Littman said.

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