Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Monday, July 18, 2011

Black Bear Bowls Over Cyclist in Panama City!

I know that Black Bears (Ursus americanus) are once again in this part of the country.  I have read at least two reports of black bear vs. auto accidents in the last two years.  BUT I have never heard of a black bear hitting a cyclist -- actually bowling him over.  And in Panama City no less!  Wow.

Cyclists beware... of more than just autos!  Yikes.

'I felt bear all over my leg': bicyclist collides with bear

Florida Freedom Newspapers
PANAMA CITY — Like he has been doing three times a week for the past four years, John Hearn got on his bicycle Thursday at 6:10 a.m. to ride12 miles to work at Tyndall Air Force Base. But as he rode along U.S. 98 at 23 miles per hour, his routine was interrupted at 6:40 by something very unexpected.
“I saw something big and black out of the corner of my eye,” Hearn said. “Then it hit me and I felt bear all over my leg.”
Hearn was broadsided by a black bear that was about 250 to 300 pounds. The collision knocked him, his bike and the bear over. Drivers stopped at the red light on the highway near Tyndall watched in utter shock.
“At first I didn’t know what happened,” witness Debbie McLeod said. “The bear was flying across the road from the left side to the right. I thought he was going to miss the rider, but then I saw the florescent colored vest fly up in the air, and knew the bear hit him.”
The black bear appeared to be shaken, but got up and scurried off into the woods. Hearn, on the other hand, had to examine the damage the bear had done.
“As soon as I got hit I knew it was a bear so when I hit the ground I was ready to run,” Hearn said. “Then I looked and the bear was already running away.”
The back tire of Hearn’s road bike was ripped off, his body had road rash on his elbows, back and hip, and the frame was damaged. His residual pain is mostly in his neck and hip.
A driver gave him and his broken bike a ride to Tyndall.
“Normally, I look in a 25 degree radius for cars turning, or coming at me to be safe, but the bear hit at practically a 90 degree angle so I barely saw him coming,” Hearn said. “It was like getting tackled by a furry, toned, boney body in football.”
Hearn has been riding bicycles for nine years and never got hit until he moved to Panama City four years ago. Now he’s been hit three times — twice by cars, once by bear.
“This is by far the worst damage done to my body and my bike,” Hearn said. “We must’ve been going almost the same speed. But sadly, the bear didn’t have insurance so I can’t do anything about it.”
Lt. Stan Kirkland of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believes there are over 3,000 black bears roaming the state.
“It is very unusual to hear of an event like this,” Kirkland said. “You hear about people seeing bears, but never being hit by one. That’s usually about deer or wild hogs.”
While this incident might be isolated, Hearn says he may be a bit wary when he rides to work again.
“After my last two accidents it took me awhile to get comfortable on my bike again” Hearn said. “I’m sure it will be like that now too.”
He said he’ll still ride a bike to work three times a week, but will be on the lookout for bears in that area.
“The bear packed a pretty good punch.”

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