Three people were killed and several others were injured after an SUV crashed into a bear Sunday evening 15 miles north of Interstate 75 on Snake Road.
Authorities said that people in a second vehicle had stopped to help those in the Cadillac Escalade that hit the bear when a Mercedes ran into them, causing the deaths. The bear was killed in the collision with the Cadillac.
“We’ve never had an accident involving a black bear,” Seminole police spokesman Gary Bitner told The Associated Press. “There are black bears throughout Florida and this is in the Everglades, so there absolutely are black bears in that area.”
The crash injured eight people between the two accidents. Broward Sheriff Fire and Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said six injured were being treated at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale.
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Five of those injured were airlifted by Broward Sheriff’s Office, Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue and Palm Beach Trauma Hawk.
“There was excellent inter-agency communication,” Jachles said.
BSO’s chopper made two trips, one to transport a 14-year-old boy whose condition worsened while being driven to Broward Health Medical Center by Everglades responders.
The boy was initially with his 45-year-old father, the driver of the Mercedes who was also injured.
The Seminole Police Department is investigating the incident.
Bitner told the AP that the crash happened on the approximately 50,000-acre Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, one of several tribal reservations scattered around Florida. He said the crash occurred north of Interstate 75, which is also known as Alligator Alley.
The black bear is the state’s largest land mammal and it has a current population of more than 3,000, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Most of the black bears live in the densely wooded wilderness of the Big Cypress and Fakahatchee Strand northwest of the Miami-Dade/Broward metropolitan area.