MIAMI (AP) — A motorist's vehicle struck and killed a black bear on a road in the Florida Everglades and three others from another vehicle who had gotten out to help the woman where then struck and killed by a third vehicle, police said. Several others were reported injured in the three-vehicle accident.
Seminole Police Department spokesman Gary Bitner told The Associated Press the woman was driving on the two-lane Snake Road just inside Everglades territory when her vehicle hit the bear shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday. He said it was after sunset and dark already by that time.
"Three people from a second vehicle got out and tried to help and all were struck and killed by a third vehicle," Bitner said by telephone, adding events apparently unfolded quickly.
"We've never had an accident involving a black bear," he noted. "There are black bears throughout Florida and this is in the Everglades, so there absolutely are black bears in that area."
He added that 13 people in total were riding in the three vehicles and four were injured severely enough that they had to be taken by helicopter to a South Florida hospital. He said four others were taken by ambulances and two of the 13 weren't hurt, including the woman in the initial crash with the bear.
The identities of those involved and the extent of their injuries weren't immediately available, he said, adding accident reconstruction experts were on the scene and details remained uncertain of precisely how events unfolded or the speed and make of the vehicles. He said at least two of the vehicles were going in opposite directions.
"They are still trying to figure everything out," he said.
Bitner said that location is on the approximately 50,000-acre Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, one of several tribal reservations scattered about Florida. He said it was also in an area north of the Everglades' Alligator Alley.
Asked about the bear, he said he had no information on its sex or age or any visible behavior at the time.
Encounters with bears in populous Florida are reported sporadically. Last week, Florida wildlife authorities said they captured and killed a bear that was suspected of being the one that bit a woman on the arm last Wednesday walking her dog in the Orlando suburb of Lake Mary in central Florida. Authorities said they also capture d two of the cubs of that bear but one was killed in the process. They added the other cub was old enough to survive on its own and they planned to release it elsewhere.