BOUNTIFUL — They were hoping for Santa and his reindeer. Instead, the Keller family was visited by a five-foot buck — inside their house.
It all happened late Christmas Eve, and the family captured home video of the deer trampling over a big pile of presents.
"When you're waiting for Santa and his sleigh and his reindeer to come and land on your roof, and he comes through your basement window, we're not gonna forget it," said Casey Keller.
Marla Keller was putting the kids to bed when there arose such a clatter. The family thinks the deer apparently tripped and fell into a deep basement window well.
"I heard crashing, I heard the window go," she said. "I looked down through the big window behind the Christmas tree, and couldn't see anything. Then all of a sudden, I heard hooves — and antlers."
The deer apparently struggled in the master bedroom for a while, trampling over some furniture and running into a doorway. The room he ended up in was the one place where the family was keeping most of their Christmas presents.
At first, Casey Keller said the family thought the buck was just trapped in the window well.
"My husband came in and ran downstairs and opened the door, and then shut it really fast, and started screaming," Marla recalled.
For about two hours, family members took their turns peeking through the door and taking pictures as they waited for wildlife officers to arrive and help get the deer out. At one point, the buck looked at the camera and then turned around towards the desk.
"But I actually realized he was looking at this picture, which is probably a little more scary," Casey said, pointing to a photograph of him grinning while holding a deer head by its antlers.
"They're all laughing that there's a deer in the house, and I'm freaking out," Marla said. "I had all of Christmas down in that bedroom — all organized, all prepared."
They did end up with a few crushed boxes, but luckily the presents inside were just fine. As far as these kids were concerned, Christmas was a success.
"I think we went to bed at 5 a.m. And the kids woke up two hours later, ready for Christmas. I was afraid I was going to go into labor today, but it's all good," Marla said.
At least the family will have something to talk about for years to come.
Officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources eventually came to help. They did have to put the deer down to get him out.
And while he's not sure what it means, Casey said that later on that night he was driving just down the street from his house when another deer jumped in front of him. He was able to brake and swerve, but did bump the animal.