Two newborn deer nestled quietly Thursday on a blanket in a Bluffton veterinary clinic, unaware of their newfound celebrity or the traumatic circumstances that brought them into this world.
At about 2:30 a.m., their mother -- pregnant with the twin fawns -- was hit by a vehicle on U.S. 278 between Pinckney Colony Road and Eagle's Pointe Drive, said Capt. Randy Hunter of the Bluffton Township Fire District.
The accident ruptured the doe's abdomen, Hunter said in an email, and "the fawns popped out and were trying to walk around."
Marthi Sumner, office manager of Coastal Veterinary Clinic in Bluffton arrived on the scene after being called by Bluffton police. She said the fawns were responsive despite the accident.
"The one started nuzzling me right away," Sumner said.
She took the deer home and put them in her bathtub with some blankets.
Dr. Benjamin Parker, owner of Coastal Veterinary Clinic, said the mother's amniotic fluid may have acted like an air bag and protected the fawns.
"There's no obvious physical trauma to either of them, which, to me, is amazing," he said.
Parker said a doe's pregnancy usually lasts about 200 days, and the mother was probably just a few days from giving birth.
The still-unnamed fawns stand nearly 2 feet tall, with stilt-like legs that account for more than half their height. Curled up, though, each looks the size of a large house cat.
Volunteers and staff are nursing them on a mixture of goat's milk and Pedialyte, Parker said. In two or three months, they will be released into the wild in a safe, local place.
No people were injured in the accident, Hunter said.