MEMPHIS -- A 23-year-old wiping out a utility pole in a one-vehicle accident is likely to draw a parent's wrath.
But once Brandi Rish's mother realized she was not injured in a crash this week, Tina Childrey praised her daughter for hitting the pole -- instead of smashing the squirrel Brandi swerved to avoid.
"I know that's strange to most people, but I love animals, and people should respect that they are living things just like us," said Childrey.
"She's an animal lover," Brandi said of her mother. "... She's a little extreme about animals."
The accident occurred in Bartlett, Tenn., near Memphis, when Rish -- driving her 2005 Volvo -- "swerved to miss hitting a squirrel," the police report states.
The car left the road, slid along a ditch and struck a driveway, sending the car airborne before striking the utility pole about 4 feet off the ground.
The officer "asked if I went 'yee-haw!" like in the 'Dukes of Hazzard,"' said Rish, who was uninjured.
The Volvo is probably totaled, and Rish was cited for failure to maintain control.
"I still don't understand why I swerved," Rish said. "If I had known what would happen, I probably wouldn't have swerved to miss a squirrel."
Childrey was pleased with her daughter's reaction. She rebuffed one officer who told Rish to hit the squirrel next time rather than wreck a car.
"Material things can be replaced," Childrey said. "Living things can't. ... I'm just glad she had enough consideration in her heart for an animal, and didn't just run over it."
Distributed by the Scripps Howard News Service.