Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sarah Vs. The Bear

A funny thing happened on the way to Alamosa from Denver one August morning. 
I hit a bear with my car. 

Yes, you read that sentence correctly. 65 mph collision with a bear in the middle of the road. Grab a drink, pull up a comfy seat, sit back and get ready for a story like you have never heard before.

My dear friend Amanda decided to buy a car while she was home for the summer in New York. She asked me if I would fly out and then drive back with her so she could have her car at college. Yes please! My first time to travel to the east and also to drive that far in a car. It was my chance to see parts of the country that I hadn't seen before.

I very much enjoyed my time in New York and was able to travel to Maine for the day to see the Atlantic Ocean and body surf. We packed as much in as we could before we had to head west.

Due to the fact that we were college students and not very smart, we were going to leave eastern New York Saturday night after Amanda's cousin's wedding and be in class on Monday morning in southern Colorado. That meant driving straight from point A to point B. As you can imagine, my parents weren't real excited about this plan. This was before everyone and anyone had a cell phone, so they sent theirs with me along with several tips and pointers for a safe trip. One of them (repeated) was to pay attention to mile markers. Didn't think too much about this at the time, but did as I was told.

We arrived in Denver at about two o'clock in the morning on Monday where I then got in my car and she followed me. I knew that this was going to be the hardest part of the trip since we had been driving for so long and we were no longer together in the same car. I found a bag of snacks and energy drinks in my car left by someone in my family so I partook in said snacks and drinks. This is where I place blame of the whole debacle. If I hadn't had that drink, I think we would have sailed right through.

I don't know if it actually kept me awake other than the fact that it made me have to go to the bathroom about every ten minutes. I think we stopped on the side of the road three times in the next two hours. 

We were driving along, me singing along to the radio at the top of my lungs at about four at this point, in the middle of nowhere in the mountains. All of a sudden 
I didn't even see him until I hit him. I didn't see his head, or his behind, just his side as I smashed into it. Everything in the car went flying forward and the air bags deployed. I some how had the state of mind to pull my car off to the side of the road and to a stop. The car was filled with smoke from the air bags, the horn was going off and the hood was smashed with smoke pouring out of it. 

This is where all logical thought left me. I got out of my car and walked back to meet Amanda. I no longer had my parents' phone (I left it at their house when I got my car) and I wanted Amanda's to call my dad. She still had her mind about her and didn't really want to get out of her car in case there was an angry hurt bear hanging around. I remember wanting to sit down and she wasn't moving fast enough so I was just going to sit down on the ground unaware that it was the middle of the road. I thought we were far enough to the side. Thankfully she caught me on my way down and put me in the car. 

By an act of God we had cell service and I was able to call my dad. I don't remember much of the phone call other than telling him that I hit a bear with my car and him asking me if I had killed it. At the time I thought this was the stupidest question ever asked. I replied with, "I don't know, want me to go back and look?" He quickly told me no! Everyone else, but me, was thinking about an angry bear wanting to take on whatever just disturbed his leisurely stroll. I figured he was experiencing fight or flight, he lost and now he was flighting away!

Dad calmed me down, gave me instructions to call 911 and get someone out there. This is where the advice of paying attention to mile markers would have been handy, but since I was in familiar territory, I hadn't been paying attention to them anymore. I knew that we were almost to the next town and the name of the highway we were on, which was a miracle in itself. The dispatch told me that they were having a hard time finding me, which was also silly to me. We were the only one's on the stretch of the highway for miles and one car was demolished. Didn't seem that hard to me.

So finally, the state patrol showed up along with the ambulance. They took me to the nearest hospital with the fear of internal damage in my abdomen. I had burns on my arms from the air bag and a spot on my stomach from either the steering wheel, seat belt or the air bags. Amanda followed us in her car and I never saw my car again.

I was looked over by the doctor in the ER and set free. Amanda drove us the rest of the way into Alamosa and the small victory was that we made it in time to go to class! I didn't go though. I thought I had a pretty good excuse for not making it and so did my prof. 

My dad, step-mom and sister left our house in Hotchkiss shortly after they hung up with me, drove the four hours to Salida to clean out my car, then another two to Alamosa to see me and make sure I was ok, then four hours back to Denver. 

Once everyone knew that I was ok, that's when the teasing began and hasn't stopped since! My cousin informed me that I am the only one in the world that has ever hit a bear with my car. He isn't correct on this but he just says that I am the only one he knows. It has been several years since this has happened but still a fun story to laugh about with friends and family.

What is the strangest animal you have had a run in with?

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence is "A funny thing happened on the way to..." brought to you by Finding Ninee.


  1. That is crazy that you hit a bear! I've almost had a run in with a dear about 3AM on the highway in my college days, but we avoided each other barely. Oh what we think we can accomplish when we're in college. Good thing you weren't any worse off.

  2. Wow! Knock on wood - I've never hit an animal, I've side swiped a car thinking I had room to get by - nobody got hurt though. Glad you were okay.

  3. Knock on wood, I haven't hit a deer yet. My brother totaled a car that way, my dad came away with fixable damage.
    Now my husband, on the other hand, hit a cow while riding on a motorcycle. It wasn't his motorcycle.

  4. Wow. That is a crazy story! You are lucky to be alive!! We hit bambi once. Yep, a baby who was walking across the interstate with its mama. Saddest thing ever.

  5. Even though everybody else is saying "knock on wood," I, too must use those words because so far, I haven't hit an animal. During a college road trip (across country, no cell phones) with my friend Julie, she hit a raccoon in Texas and had to pull over to cry. It was like 2am as well!
    And hitting a bear!?!?!? Poor bear, I guess but yeah, my first thought was "OMG she got out of the car??? The bear will eat her!" Glad that didn't happen and that you were okay. I'd have skipped class, too... funny crazy story! Thanks for sharing it with us for FTSF!!

  6. Oh wow, Sarah, this is a great story and definitely not something that's ever happened to anyone here in Australia, but my parents did have a run in with a kangaroo last year. Actually, lots of people have collisions with roos here and some are quite serious, even fatal. You must have been so scared the time but I can imagine that it does make for a funny story in retrospect! When I lived in Sweden, my first host family hit a moose one night (I wasn't in the car). It was a small one, so they were okay, but the windscreen was smashed. Another time, I was on a train and the train hit a moose and we had to wait for ages while they got a different train in for all the passengers to change over to. Oh, and a guy I know hit a cow on the road once in Sicily. I think hitting a bear would be the scariest though ... no-one would want an angry bear hanging round with a vendetta against them!!

  7. Holy bear! Wow. So glad you were OK. But what a story!