Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
By Margie Wuebker
Sons save mom from pond following car, deer crash
  A New Bremen-area mother who was in a car accident Saturday evening owes her life to the quick actions of her sons.
Jacqueline M. Wilker, 45, was driving southbound on U.S. 127, north of Brown Road, when a deer was hit by a northbound car driven by Raegan L. Hastings, 31, of Forest, and thrown into the windshield of Wilker's 2011 Toyota Corolla.
Wilker's car traveled left of center into the east ditch approximately 200 feet and landed in a pond owned by Jerry Miller, 5908 U.S. 127. Wilker was unconscious after the collision and her two oldest sons in the back seat unsuccessfully tried to grab the steering wheel.
As the car was sinking, 15-year-old Nathan was able to open a back passenger door. He and his brother Ryan, 18, helped their brother, Austin, 12, out of the front seat and onto shore. The two teens flagged down passers-by and returned into the water to get their mother.
"The older boys reached the car and were able to unbuckle my wife's seat belt," their father, Robert Wilker, told The Daily Standard. "They pulled her out through the broken windshield and towed her to shore."
Jacqueline Wilker regained consciousness by the time Mercer County Sheriff's deputies and Celina Fire Department medics arrived at the scene.
"I don't know whether I hit something inside the car or whether I was struck in the head by the deer antlers," she said. "Everybody tells me I am a very lucky person."
The proud mother doesn't remember anything about the accident that occurred about 7:13 p.m., but said she is here today "because of good kids and good Samaritans" who helped at the scene.
The Wilkers were taken by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, where all were treated then released. Jacqueline Wilker is recovering from a concussion, and the sons have returned to school - Nathan is a freshman at Memorial High School in St. Marys, Ryan is a freshman at the University of Dayton and Austin is a seventh-grader at Holy Rosary School in St. Marys.
"We are so fortunate," Robert Wilker said. "U.S. 127 is such a busy road ... an oncoming vehicle could have been right there when the car veered left of center."
Celina Fire Chief Doug Wolters estimated the depth of the pond at 7 feet and praised the sons for their rescue efforts.
"The incident could have ended so differently without the efforts of those boys," he said. "They are to be commended."
The Wilkers' heavily damaged car was towed from the scene; Hastings' 2006 Ford Focus sustained light damage.
The deer was found dead in the west ditch during the investigation.
Deer continue to pose a traffic hazard throughout Mercer County. As of Monday, the sheriff's office has handled 94 deer-related accidents this year, a slight increase from the 92 recorded during the same time period in 2011. Deer activity traditionally picks up during hunting season.
Authorities expect a year-end accident total of slightly more than the 163 recorded last year, according to Capt. Martin Emerine of the Mercer County Sheriff's office. Statistics indicate deer accidents are likely to occur in the hours before dawn and just after sunset.
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