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Deer gores woman's eye at facility where lion escaped | News

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Deer gores woman's eye at facility where lion escaped

Spring Hill, FL -- A 75-year-old woman was gored in the eye Friday morning by a deer at the Survival Outreach Sanctuary, the same facility where a lion temporarily escaped last week.

A spokesperson for Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission confirms the injured woman, Sylvia Fernandez, is the sister of Judy Watson, the owner of the sanctuary.

During a 911 call for help Friday morning, a woman tells a Pasco County dispatcher the victim is covered in blood, but is conscious.

Officials say Fernandez was first rushed to a hospital in Spring Hill before being airlifted to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson.

A person entering the sanctuary on Friday afternoon declined to give her name, but told reports Fernandez is "fine." However, the hospital told us she is in serious condition.

Ricky Miller, a neighbor of the sanctuary tells 10 News the deer was found in the wild a few years ago and brought to S.O.S. He says the deer is called "Vinny".

"The deer runs in the outer perimeter of the fencing, because each animal has their own cage... but the deer runs within the outer perimeter," Miller said.

In the past, Miller says "Vinny" has shown some aggressive behavior, including an incident in November when he says he considered shooting the deer.

"I walked outside and the deer is right next to me trying to tear down the porch and everything, rubbing its antlers against it."

But eventually Miller says he and his fiancée's dad were able to wrestle "Vinny" off their property and back to the sanctuary.

The FWC says it is now investigating Friday's incident.

Vernon Yates, who operates Wildlife Rescue and Rehab and who helped capture the lion last week, says the deer is currently confined somewhere inside the sanctuary. 

Last week, an African lion named Savannah dug a hole under a fence and escaped from her enclosure. The lion was captured a few hours later.

See Also: After lion escape, group wants exotic animals ban

The owner of the sanctuary has since been charged with a misdemeanor count of "improper caging" following the lion escape.

According to the sanctuary's website, it houses large cats, wolf dogs and other wildlife.

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