Looking Back: Student wrecks truck chasing deer

Katelyn Hill, Staff Reporter

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Around 29 years ago, two Oakland University students found out the hard way why drunk driving and deer chasing definitely don’t mix.

On Nov. 8, 1990, Neil Kalis, 23, and Scott Kuzma, 20, were driving a university vehicle on their way back from an auction at the BMW Showroom in Birmingham, heading to the art gallery where they worked on campus.

The trouble for the two seemed to have started while they were still at the auction, where they decided to consume alcohol. Kuzma said both of them had been drinking while they were at the auction, but didn’t drink while in the truck. 

“We were just celebrating what we considered to be a good auction,” Kuzma said.  

Unbeknownst to the students, alcohol tends to stay in the system and affect the decision making that is vital for driving — and not chasing animals. 

When the pair arrived at the art gallery, they were unable to get in and drop off the contents of the truck. Soon afterward, they came across a deer and decided to chase it. 

“It was the first time that either of us had seen a deer on campus,” Kuzma said. 

One thing led to another, and the two found themselves rolling the university vehicle Kalis was driving into two fences behind Meadow Brook Hall.

The two then left the accident scene and headed to Fitzgerald House in order to call public safety. Though two joggers who happened by the scene offered to call for them, the boys declined, Kuzma said. 

“We didn’t want anybody else who was not in the accident to report it,” he said.  “We wanted to report it ourselves.”

Luckily for the two, there was nothing of great value that was damaged during the accident. However, that did not prevent the inevitable consequences they faced. 

Kalis, the driver of the vehicle, was cited for drunk driving, unlawful blood alcohol level and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident by public safety after a jogger called to inform the OUPD of the accident. 

He failed various sobriety tests and was arrested and transported to the Auburn Hills Police Department, and later to Crittenton Hospital, where he received stitches for a cut on his head. 

Kiichi Usui, curator of the art gallery and the one who gave police the students’ identities, promptly fired the two because he, “cannot trust them to work in the gallery.”