A Brown County woman whose car erupted in flames after colliding with a deer is feeling blessed that she walked away from the accident without a scratch or a bruise, and the deer apparently survived too.

Aimie Heltman, 39, said the 7:15 a.m. Wednesday accident was her third involving a deer, but her first involving a car fire.

“We live in the land of the deer,” she said of the location where the accident happened, the 13000 block of Becks Grove Road, southwest of Columbus near the Brown County line.

She was on her way to a chiropractic appointment Wednesday morning before work at the Cummins MidRange Engine Plant in Columbus, heading east out of Brown County, she said.

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An eight-point buck came out to the road on the driver’s side, hitting the side and front of her car, crunching the hood, she said.

She was traveling about 40 miles per hour, but managed to stop, she said.

An unidentified passerby also stopped to check on her as she called her husband, who was a few minutes ahead of her traveling on Becks Grove Road.

While waiting for him to return, she removed her personal belongings from the car and called 911 at 7:18 a.m., she said. By 7:30 p.m., the gas tank on the Honda CRV she was driving had exploded, engulfing the vehicle in flames, she said.

“We think the deer hit the battery cavity and broke the battery ground cable, causing a spark,” she said.

It took about 15 minutes for volunteer firefighters from Southwest Volunteer Fire Department, Brown County and Harrison Township to arrive, and she could only watch as the flames even caught grass and debris on both sides of the road on fire, she said.

“Those first responders were amazing to me — so kind and concerned and making sure I was OK,” she said. “They came out — it was cold and it started raining and they were just incredible. I want to thank them for taking such good care of us.”

In addition to the firefighters, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputy Nick Martoccia was also sent to the accident.

As for the deer, Heltman said it got up and ran off after the collision.

“I feel incredibly blessed,” she said in the aftermath of what happened. “I could have been hurt, but all we lost was a car. I didn’t have our children with me, I don’t even have a bruise. God must still have some plans for me.”

Laughing at the thought, she said one of those plans will be car shopping for the holidays.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.