Bears caused two vehicle crashes in two days over Labor Day weekend in La Plata County – involving the same Texas family.
“It blew my mind,” said Roxanne Kascak-Pendleton, a member of the family.
In the first crash, Anne Kascak, 57, and her husband, Edward Kascak, 60, were returning to their RV in Silverton after attending the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally on Saturday night when a bear hit their three-wheeled motorcycle.
The couple had been vacationing in Colorado, after Edward Kascak’s recovery from a liver transplant, which had kept the two close to their hometown hospital, said Kascak-Pendleton, the couple’s daughter.
The 400- to 600-pound bear was running across U.S. Highway 550 south of Trimble Lane when it hit the side of the trike, Kascak-Pendleton said.
“His head hit the gas tank and dented it,” she said.
Anne Kascak was thrown from the trike, suffering a head injury and a serious leg injury in the crash, Kascak-Pendleton said.
Edward Kascak kept his seat on the trike even though his leg was broken.
Somehow, the bear engaged the throttle on impact, so Edward shot forward an additional 500 feet before stopping, Kascak-Pendleton said.
Edward didn’t see the bear hit him. So when he turned around, he saw his wife and the bear lying in the middle of the road, Kascak-Pendleton said. The bear got up, ran away and then collapsed in a ditch, she said.
The weight of the trike likely saved the couple’s lives because the vehicle didn’t roll, she said. The two were wearing helmets.
The couple were taken immediately to Mercy Regional Medical Center, and Anne Kascak then was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, Kascak-Pendleton said.
“Her brain was swelling, and it was bleeding, and they didn’t have a neurosurgeon,” she said.
Edward couldn’t go with Anne because of his leg injuries, Kascak-Pendleton said. But both were expected to recover.
That might be the end of the story, but Kascak-Pendleton was to have her own close encounter with a bear Sunday night.
Kascak-Pendleton flew Sunday into Durango from Houston to care for her parents.
After retrieving her parents’ RV and trike from Silverton, Kascak-Pendleton was driving with her father to Albuquerque on Highway 550 south of Bondad Hill about 6:30 p.m. when a bear ran across the road in front of them.
Kascak-Pendleton hit her brakes to avoid the bear, but a strap on the trike she was hauling snapped and the 29-foot RV she was towing fishtailed. The pickup and the RV jackknifed and slid off the road, she said. Neither one was injured.
“I was so upset,” she said.
She called the same towing company, Bo Dean’s Towing, that had helped with her parents’ trike, she said.
Despite her bad luck, Kascak-Pendleton said she was thankful for all the help she received retrieving her parents’ RV from Silver Lakes RV park and assistance after her crash.
“The cops and everybody that we ran into has helped and been so nice. ... I can’t thank them enough because I don’t know how I would have done it otherwise,” she said.
Kascak-Pendleton was with her mother in the hospital earlier this week and expected both her parents to recover.
“She’ll be fine; he’ll be fine,” she said.