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Motorcycle hits bear on Hwy. 62

Crash injures driver, passenger; badly hurt bear has to be shot

A severely injured bear was put out of its misery Sunday morning after it ran into the path of a motorcycle heading southbound on Highway 62 near Prospect, injuring the rider and passenger.

Peter Burnand was flown by helicopter to Rogue Valley Medical Center, said Bill Matson, Oregon State Police senior trooper. An unidentified woman passenger was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The couple, who remained in the emergency room Sunday afternoon, were on vacation from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Matson said the couple, who were wearing helmets, skidded 97 feet after the impact. They were riding a 2001 Yamaha towing a mini-trailer.

They did have injuries, but I don't think they were serious, he said.

The accident occurred at milepost 47 on Highway 62.

The bear just darted out and they hit it in the side, he said.

The 150-200 pound sow was semi-conscious. A passerby shot it, and it was dragged off the roadway. Fish and wildlife personnel removed the remains.

Matson said it is more common to see vehicles encountering deer on the highways, not bears. This is not something that happens very often, he said.

Prospect Fire Chief Bob Batte, who responded to the scene of the accident, said the bear was initially unconscious after the accident, but began moving around.

It wouldn't have been safe for us to go ahead and maintain the scene, he said, referring to the need to dispatch the animal.

Emergency personnel from Fire District 4 also responded along with crews from the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Batte said passersby also blocked traffic with their vehicles to protect the couple, who were lying on the roadway.

Initially we had some of the passersby doing traffic control, he said. There was a retired paramedic/firefighter from down south in California who assisted.

Batte, who also works at Fire District 3, said this kind of citizen involvement in accidents is rare.

It's the exception to the rule that we have people who stop and assist, he said. Normally, they're not that happy when we have to set up roadblocks.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail Motorcycle hits bear on Hwy. 62"dmann@mailtribune.com.