A cross country runner was knocked off his feet by a deer that slammed into him mid-course.
Justin DeLuzio, 21, a member of the Gwynedd Mercy University cross country team, was taking part in the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional in Pennsylvania on Saturday when a herd of deer bolted towards him.
Eric Bologa, an assistant coach at Frostburg State University, was recording the runners at the time.
“As I’m running the race, I hear a spectator, who you can kinda hear in the video," DeLuzio told InsideEdition.com. "He says, ‘Look out for the deer!’ I turn my head a little bit left and before I can get it all the way around, I’m looking the deer in the eye and he gets me right in the chest.”
The senior flipped in the air and landed on his back. Bologa's footage of the collision, which he shared to Facebook, has since been viewed more than six million times.
DeLuzio continued: “I kinda sat there in disbelief really, not so much in pain but more so in disbelief of what had actually happened. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough time to make a move or move out of the way... but I did get a good glimpse of his face and I was fully aware that a deer did just hit me.”
He said the feeling of being struck by the deer was “like getting hit by an NFL linebacker.”
His teammate and close friend, Matt French, helped him to his feet after the deer ran off.
French ran alongside his buddy as they finished the final four miles of the race.
A thankful DeLuzio said French “was a big motivation in allowing me to finish.”
“Part of me said: ‘Get up and go. Get up and start running! You’re in a race!’ And the second half of me was like: ‘Take a moment and acknowledge what exactly just happened to you. Did you just get hit by a deer?’ The unlikelihood of that was a little bit astounding to me,” he said.
He finished in 294th place out of 400 runners and plans to continue running.
Luckily, he walked away with a few bruises and no serious injuries.