A Michigan dirt bike rider’s dramatic collision with a crossing black bear was caught on film.
It is estimated that around one million animals are struck on U.S. roads every day. A relatively insignificant number of those collisions involved bears. Insignificant, that is, for everyone who’s neither the bear nor in the vehicle at the time.
But bear numbers are increasing across the country, and bear vs. human encounters are increasing. Last year 25 bears were struck by cars in Yosemite National Park. Still it’s a statistically rare occurence.
That makes the video capture of this incident all the more unique and dramatic. Chris Deweerdt and Andrew Finch were riding their dirt bikes on a forested dirt road in Baldwin, Michigan. Finch had attached a GoPro camera to his helmet to film his friend Deweerdt riding ahead of him.
The video shows Deweerdt riding smoothly along the twisting and turning road when about 30 seconds into the video, a dark objects darts from the forest on the right, directly into the path of Deweerdt. Both rider and bear were sent tumbling in a cloud of dust. A split second later, Finch too crashes as he swerves to avoid running over his friend and hits a tree instead.
Deweerdt told WZZM13 News that he had “No time to react…hit it broadside. Hit my head…blacked out for, a couple seconds at the most.” Deweerdt suffered a concussion and minor scrapes and bruises in the incident.
After composing themselves and resting from the collision, the two made their way out of the woods and sought medical assistance to make sure they were ok.
Slow motion and stills from the video clearly show a small bear dashing directly into Deweerdt’s path, and then tumbling through the collision along with Deweerdt. The bear immediately ran off into the woods after the crash.
But Deweerdt appears dazed after Finch helps lift his bike off of him. He stands on shaky legs and tries to regain his composure and balance. Finch sounds incredulous as he helps his friend. He can’t believe they just had an accident with a black bear.
The two admitted that they had some concern about a possible mother bear nearby, given the small size of the black bear they hit. But their concerns were unfounded. Why the bear was running full bore through the woods and across the road is a mystery.
It is an incredible bit of bad timing for all involved. A second or two earlier or later, and bear and human may not have even seen one another, let alone collide.
It is also an incredible stroke of good fortune that neither rider was seriously hurt in the crash.
As stated earlier, black bear numbers and encounters appear to be increasing across the country. It pays, more than ever, to be on extra alert for the animals.