The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 17, 2013

The story behind Johnstown’s viral video

JOHNSTOWN — The way John Porter tells it, some of his co-workers now call him “John Deer.”

That’s because Porter was behind the wheel of a CamTran bus driving along Goucher Street on Tuesday night when a white-tailed deer crashed through his windshield. Footage of the incident has gone viral, with 1.5 million views on The Tribune-Democrat's YouTube video of it.

“They tease me about picking up a passenger at the wrong stop; not paying the fare; why didn’t I keep the deer,” Porter, 54, said. “It’s all in fun.”

Kidding aside, CamTran officials say Porter averted what could have been a tragedy.

The bus was carrying just one passenger.

“That route is very heavily traveled by people in wheelchairs because of the Hiram G. Andrews Center,” said Rose Lucey-Noll, CamTran executive director.

The center provides education and training for people with disabilities.

“We carry about 1,000 people a month from Hiram G. Andrews,” Lucey-Noll said. “There are times when the buses are full.”

Porter said he wasn’t sure what he saw charging across the road moments before the deer hit his window.

“I’m coming down Goucher Street about a quarter after 6,” he said. “All I saw was a blur and the window smashed. The deer was running around trying to get out a window.

“I had my window open and I was worried about it trying to jump over me,” Porter said. “You just stay calm.”

The doors on the newer CamTran buses like the one Porter was driving will not open until the vehicle comes to a complete stop, he said. When the front door opened, the deer took off toward the Berkley Hills Golf Course.

Neither driver nor passenger was injured. The deer appeared no worse for wear.

“I had glass in my hair,” Porter said. “I finally got home and there was a small sliver in my ear. My wife pulled it out.”

Emails from around the globe have flooded CamTran. Many have complimented the driver, Lucey-Noll said.

CamTran drivers are required to have six to eight weeks of training before they can get behind the wheel, she said.

“He kept his wits about him,” she said of Porter. “It’s good news that was spread across the world.”

 Upper Yoder Township police Chief Walter Howell said it was unusual to see deer this time of year. Normally they’re spotted in the autumn during mating season.

“You see them when they’re in a rut,” Howell said. “This was odd. We’re talking May.”

Porter said he’s had few encounters with wildlife.

“In Alaska, I was chased off the golf course by a moose,” he said. “I got in the golf cart and took off.”

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