KUSA - A young couple says they are counting their blessings after hitting and elk with their car on Highway 93 near Golden.
Kaitlen Dreher says she was driving home from a friend's house with her boyfriend around 9:30 Thursday night when the elk came out of nowhere.
"All the sudden, there's a hill at the top of Highway 93 by the deer crossing, and we got to the hill, and my boyfriend was like, 'elk!'" Dreher explained. "I hit the elk right away. It was probably the most traumatizing experience I've ever had. I was scared that I was going to lose my life."
Her boyfriend, Elbert Johnson, said it happened so fast there was no way they could avoid hitting the animal.
"She didn't have much time to react," he said. "It was pretty much put your hand on the dash and hope it didn't hurt."
After hitting the elk, the animal flew up and over the car, crushing the front window, back window and the top of the car. The animal was killed.
Both Dreher and Johnson say they were in shock at first and didn't realize, until police and paramedics arrived, just how lucky there were to have survived.
"When the paramedics and cops arrived they were surprised to see that we were alive," Johnson said. "There were holes in the side from the antlers; the antlers were gone on the [elk]. [They] just flew off from the impact, I guess. It was pretty bad. It went up and over the car, crushed the top of the car."
The car is totaled. Johnson says he knows it could have been a lot worse.
"There was a hole on my side. If it was up a little bit more it would have went through the window and into me," he said. "So I got to count my blessings and say somebody is looking out for you."
The Colorado Department of Transportation says there are more than 3,000 animal strikes every year.
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